Freebirth is akin to vaccine refusal

Young woman making a stop pose

A number of recent deaths in the freebirth community have been publicized by Katie Paulson in a series of Patheos columns.

“Lisa,” a member of a Facebook freebirth group for women who refuse any medical care for childbirth told the group:

My water broke the evening of the 4th and was discolored. Since I was 42 weeks I thought it was normal. But as the days went by it got more foul smelling and turned a sick poop color which was constantly leaking and the baby stopped moving on the 6th.

I woke on the 7th with so much pain and pouring meconium that Chris and I agreed it was time to transfer.

The baby was already dead. According to Lisa, the baby died of a massive infection.

Freebirth is NOT a reproductive right.

The mainstream media have picked up the story and have expressed sympathy for freebirthers in general and “Lisa” in particular. They’ve been swayed by claims that freebirth is an issue of reproductive freedom.

Beth Greenfield of Yahoo Lifestyle wrote:

The baby’s death, then, and resulting fiery discourse, has for many been a line in the sand — with those on one side seeing freebirthing as a reckless choice that selfishly flouts the standards of modern medicine, and those on the other seeing it as the powerful epitome of a woman’s right to choose. The argument is strikingly similar in tone to that of this country’s abortion debate, with one question at the center of it all: How freely should a woman be to choose her childbirth experience?

I would argue that abortion is the wrong frame for this analysis since freebirth is not a reproductive right. Reproductive rights involve women’s right to control whether and when to reproduce; they encompass contraception and pregnancy termination. Reproductive rights are positive rights, requiring as they do both availability and access to birth control and abortion.

Freebirth is an issue of refusal of medical care, a negative right, a right to be left alone.

Indeed, reproductive rights advocates acknowledge this in an article written by Emily Shugerman of The Daily Beast.

According to [reproductive rights attorney Farah] Diaz-Tello, laws governing childbirth generally apply to providers, not to birthing mothers. The reasoning: Any U.S. resident has the right to refuse medical treatment, regardless of whether it is in their best interest. To prosecute a freebirthing mother, she said, the state would have to prove its own interest superseded that right.

“That would be a pretty remarkable thing to say,” Diaz-Tello said. “If you don’t go to the hospital when something’s going wrong, we’re going to what, seize your body and make you do it?”

Freebirth is akin not to abortion but to vaccine refusal.

Make no mistake, every pregnant woman has the legal right to refuse medical care even if that refusal will result in the death of the baby.

A mother’s legal obligation to the baby do not begin until the baby is born and separate from her. The baby does acquire a legal right to healthcare at the moment of birth. In practical terms that means that a woman has no legal obligation to seek medical care for an unborn child. If that child is born dead, no laws have been violated. In contrast, the mother does NOT have the right to refuse lifesaving medical care for a baby born alive. Had Lisa’s baby been born alive at home, she would have been legally obligated to call for medical assistance if the child showed signs of poor health.

Similarly a mother has a right to refuse vaccines for her child. The government and the medical profession cannot vaccinate a child without a parent’s consent.

In either case, the right to refuse care does not imply a right to be free of criticism for that refusal. Had Lisa’s baby been born alive and subsequently died of whooping cough after not being vaccinated, there would be nothing wrong with people pointing out that the baby died BECAUSE OF Lisa’s refusal of vaccines, that she bore responsibility for that death, and that it was ignorance of immunology, science and statistics that led her to make a terrible, deadly decision.

Similarly, there is nothing wrong with people pointing out that Lisa’s baby died in utero BECAUSE OF Lisa’s refusal of childbirth medical care, that she bears moral responsibility for that preventable death, and that it was ignorance of childbirth and its inherent dangers that led her to make a terrible, deadly choice.

In my view, NO ONE should have written to her personally, but there’s nothing wrong with reporting on the deadly results of such faulty reasoning. It’s like the decision to refuse to put a baby in a car seat. Were the baby to die from being ejected through the window in a crash, no one should write to the mother personally, but there’s nothing wrong with reporting on the deadly results of such faulty reasoning.

Publicizing freebirth tragedies does not compromise reproductive rights, because freebirth is not a reproductive right. It’s the same as the right to refuse any lifesaving medical treatment, no more and no less.

  • MamaB23

    I’m really sorry. I follow this blog and don’t often comment, but I read another sympathetic article in favor of the freebirth group involved in that innocent baby’s death and I’m about to blow.

    It appears to me that this climate of mom shaming originated with the natural child birthers and lactivists. They will shame moms for formula feeding, having a C-section, getting an epidural, allowing screen time, not feeding their kids a vegan/organic/gluten-free diet, and the list goes on. Now they want to cry that enough is enough when a mother very publicly gambled with the life of her innocent child on social media faced backlash when it resulted in death. I guess it’s fine to shame mothers for personal preferences that don’t result in immediate demise, but we draw the line at negligenct homicide or man slaughter.

    It seems to me that this backlash that Journey Moon’s mother faced in addition to the loss of her child is the direct result of the mom shaming climate that was perpetuated by the very people behind this incredibly risky freebirth movement. But let’s continue to blame the sensible people who think everyone in that Facebook group who sat by and encouraged this woman to avoid medical treatment as that child SUFFERED to the very end is responsible for that poor child’s death. I don’t think we should be trolling the poor mother who made a very poor decision.

    She did pay the ultimate price, but I see a lot of hypocrisy from the same people who will brow beat a mother for coming to an emotional decision to quit breastfeeding when she realizes that for whatever reason it just isn’t working out. That mother likely already feels an amount of guilt and shame (which is sad because she shouldn’t) without being bombarded with “you didn’t try hard enough” “Fed is bare minimum. Breast is best.”

    I guess in short they really need be more self-aware and reflective before spouting off about how women are being shamed for their birth choices.

    • RudyTooty

      You’ve identified the twisted logic behind the ideology of natural childbirth.

      Shaming women is appropriate if they are not conforming to extreme loyality to what’s ‘natural’ – shame women for not breastfeeding, shame women for not vaccinating, shame women for opting for effective pain relief during labor, shame women for willingly using modern life-saving medicine – but cry FOUL for mom-shaming when the mother who *did* adhere to the extreme natural lunacy and ended up with one of the very worst outcomes – the death of her baby.

      I feel no need to shame/blame the mother… She is suffering this loss. The loss of a child is a fate worse than incarceration…. it is a punishing circumstance in itself. Others will argue with me, this is my opinion.

      I DO believe there is a need to shame/blame and identify the callous idiots who promote and propagate these very dangerous ideologies with impunity. This is a system and a culture that is promoting this that goes far beyond one individual – and everyone who participates is accountable – or should be held accountable – for their part in it. It’s lethal propaganda.

    • Ravens Starr

      I don’t think anyone should troll her. But I do think she is ultimately culpable. It isn’t like there isn’t an entire world out there from which she could have gotten alternate information. I haven’t trolled her, but I have no sympathy to offer her either.

  • Sheven

    I have to say, I really hate this idea that, in order for a woman to have rights, she has to be sympathetic and a good person. It compromises every part of the abortion-rights, and by extension, the bodily-autonomy movement.

    I hate when people say, “Oh that law doesn’t even have an exception for cases of rape or incest.” It shouldn’t! A woman’s right to her body doesn’t hinge on her being a good girl or you feeling sorry for her. If you’re going to violate women by taking their rights, don’t salve your conscience by making exceptions.

    • space_upstairs

      That’s because they see responsibility as more important than rights, and believe that women should take more responsibility for whom they have sex with as well as the responsibility to raise a child at some point in their lives. If she did not choose to have sex, or would not be able to bear and raise the child due to her or the proto-child’s medical problems, then she can no longer be seen as shirking one of these two responsibilities. I can understand the sentiment, but of course I personally feel that these situations are a little more complicated. It’s great to take responsibility for sex, but many people are not given the right information or encouragement to be able to do so. And it’s great to take the responsibility to raise a child, but I don’t think everyone (or everyone with a female reproductive system) necessarily can or should do so, and if not disposed or able to do so, should not necessarily have to practice celibacy.

      • LaMont

        Oh they don’t believe that a woman’s medical inability to safely carry to term means jacksh*t. Die if you must, but god’s will be done.

        • space_upstairs

          Some don’t care about ability to carry to term; a woman’s sacred responsibility to “mother” her embryo or fetus as long as physically possible trumps all for those people. But there are many advocates of restricting reasons for abortions who do care about ability to carry to term and thus support health exceptions.

          • LaMont

            Yeah, and at least health exceptions make sense – if you think a fetus is a person with full rights, then only imminent death at a fetus’ hands justifies taking the life. The issue is that waiting for imminent death is malpractice. Plus, what qualifies as a health exception? A 50%+ chance of dying? A 100% chance of dying? I could see a church telling a woman that a 95, 99% chance of death rather than a safe live birth isn’t enough to justify murder – hell, even 100%. Belief in miracles is literally part of the deal…

          • space_upstairs

            Yeah, it is complicated. In countries that allow abortions only for imminent maternal or fetal death and/or rape, there have been publicized cases where they waited too long to try to save the would-be mother. It’s better than not trying at all, given that other cases may be managed on time, but the whole issue is a big mess. So I support elective abortion to try to compensate for these hairy cases, and anyone who wishes not to get an abortion for any reason other than sexual assault and/or imminent maternal or fetal death can still apply those restrictions to herself.

      • Sheven

        But that’s not responsibility, it’s punishment. If having a baby made someone responsible, there would be no CPS.

        If you see a woman having casual sex or sex without birth control and decide that that makes her irresponsible, well, how do you think she’ll be as a mom? (“You” in a general sense, not you personally.)

        • space_upstairs

          I agree with you, but try to understand the other side as well. I would say in that case that these “responsibility over rights” people probably believe that punishment duly applied will increase the odds of responsibility; what works for a parent-child relationship will work for the society-individual woman relationship. Except, of course, punishment/discipline/consequences can fail even in parent-child relationships, and we need contingency plans to handle that reality.

    • Heidi

      I don’t think such a law could even be implemented. I don’t know how you would prove rape. I’m sure it would not be as easy as saying, “I was raped.” I’m sure they would violate women even further.

      • mabelcruet

        At a slight tangent, there is a bizarre rule in UK child benefits (universal credit/social services/benefits type payment). You only get child benefit for the first two children in a family-£20 for the first child and £13 for the second per week). You can only claim child benefit for a third child if it was conceived via non-consensual sex. But you have to prove it was non-consensual sex-if you didn’t report it to the police then obviously there is no investigation and no proof. But in Northern Ireland, women are subject to a criminal investigation if they don’t report rape. So they either get arrested for not reporting the offence, or they don’t get any financial assistance. Initially the plan was that an independent professional would decide if it was non-consensual sex-so a GP or a social worker would make a judgement. That caused huge controversy because its absolutely not their job, its the police and the crown prosecution service to decide if its criminal. Plus, if a GP or a social worker decided it was rape, then they are also potentially subject to criminal charges through not reporting the rape. It’s a huge, huge mess.

        • Sheven

          That is horrible in every way.

          • Sarah

            Yeah, basically.

  • Ravens Starr

    I feel like from a legal standpoint, there is little that can be done about freebirthing, and legally it does not then resemble vaccine refusal – although it is clearly morally reprehensible. It does not resemble the abortion rights debate for the reasons you outlined.
    Vaccine refusal for oneself, as well as other medical refusal, should be legal. However I am of the (possibly unpopular) opinion that neither vaccine refusal nor other medical refusal for one’s children – once born – should be legal. They are not contained in one’s body, so bodily autonomy rights do not apply.
    Typically the law has treated children less as sentient beings and more as property. Women have been treated thus in the past as well. If we are to conceive of children as young, vulnerable sentient beings with rights, it is unconscionable that they could be denied basic medical care that could leave them open to disability and death simply because their parents have a scientifically false belief based in woo, religion, or whatever else.
    If one refuses treatment for one’s child I think the court should step in and take the child from the parents. They clearly aren’t fit to raise them. Possibly this could be an option in the case of freebirthers as well, if they have other children – I think there is a lot of crossover with refusing vaccines and other medical intervention as well.
    I had the grossly unfortunate luck to encounter a woman on an unrelated forum recently who not only is a pro homebirthing, anti-medicine person (and was telling other young women birth doesn’t hurt “that much” and it’s only one day out of your life so what’s the big deal?) who is joining a cult out in the wilderness that is pro spanking and all sorts of other things. In one of her posts she related the “horrible kidnapping tale” of her hospital birth – her baby was taken to NICU and the lying nurses wouldn’t give her the baby so she could nurse because they “claimed” she was having trouble breathing! They made her wait TEN WHOLE MINUTES to nurse! She spent the whole night pumping to make her milk come in! Kidnapping! Then they had the nerve to charge her money for the kidnapping! The stupid burns. No gratitude for going home with a healthy baby.

    • mabelcruet

      In the UK, children aren’t treated as an appendage of their parents. Legally, if a child doesn’t have capacity to make their own decisions about health care, then treatment proceeds on the basis of what is medically in the child’s best interests, and not on what the parents want. Obviously, you’d hope that what the parents want IS in the child’s best interests, but if there is a significant difference, then there is a sizeable body of law to deal with it-the courts make the decision. That’s why we ended up with such a furore over Charlie Gard (in Great Ormond Street Hospital) and Alfie Evans (in Alder Hey hospital) because both parents wanted medical treatment to continue, and the medical teams said that it was futile and not in either child’s interest. The media was full of indignation about parental rights being eroded and how it was up to parents to have the final word. No, its not-its up to the courts if what your parents want to do will cause you harm. Its very well established here.

      We have what’s called Gillick competence and Fraser guidelines, and these priniciples provide guidance of how to judge when a child is able to make their own decisions. There have been a few cases in law around these issues too-there was a teenager who needed a heart transplant and she didn’t want one (I think she’d already had one transplanted as a very small child)-the parents took the case to court because they wanted to force her to have one. I can’t quite recall the details but I think the judge decided she was old enough to understand and said she had the right to make her own choice. I think whenever the time came, she changed her mind.

      Edit-there has been some case law about vaccination too. One case involved parents who had divorced-the mum didn’t want the child vaccinated but the dad did. The court sided with the father on the grounds that medical evidence was overwhelmingly in favour of vaccination and that not to vaccinate could potentially be harmful.

      • Who?

        There were also some fairly unfortunate cases in Canada where First Nations families were allowed to refuse medical care for cancer for their children, and take them instead to very 20th century quacks: https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/ontario-fails-to-protect-the-life-of-a-first-nations-girl-with-cancer/

      • rox123

        I don’t understand one thing in the case of Alfie Evans. Hospital/court decided that it was in the best interest of the child to die, right? (which means at the time he was considered still alive). At the same time Alfie was supposedly already brain damaged beyond any hope – so why was the decision presented as being in his best interest? What best interest can a dead body have?

        • Sarah

          Well he was alive at the time they made the decision, so they made it in his best interests then. Medical opinion was clear that there was no possibility of quality of life or improvement, and could also not rule out the possibility that he might be in pain. This was agreed on by all clinicians, including those who wanted to keep him alive. Thus there was no benefit to him in going on living, but also the possibility that it might be detrimental to him. Legally it was actually a pretty straightforward case once the medical evidence said what it said.

        • mabelcruet

          Technically yes, he was still alive, but its the difference between life and existance. About 90% of his brain was dead-his brain stem was still just about working but that was beginning to fail because of recurrent damage due to seizures. The brain stem controls the autonomic functions such as the heart beat, but he had no purposeful movement or awareness. He couldn’t breathe well enough to maintain oxygenation himself-he had had multiple episodes of lung collapse as a result of mechanical ventilation (having been ventilated for over a year) and he had developed severe underlying lung disease which made oxygenation even more difficult, leading to hypoxic brain damage on top of his pre-existing brain damage. Lung damage predisposed him to infection and sepsis, which he’d had multiple episodes of too. He was having seizures almost continuously-even with mimimal stimulation such as changing him or washing him could trigger a seizure. There was absolutely no hope of improvement or treatment-even the hospital in Rome that offered to take him said that, and all they were offering was a further 2 weeks of ventilation whilst they re-did all the brain tests that had previously been done multiple times. The courts decided that transporting him was not in his best interests as that would leave him wide open to having seizures or getting more infections or lung collapses and they considered that was cruel and unnecesary given that there would be no benefit. Far better to let him die peacefully in his mother’s arms than dragging him half way across Europe and dying in mid-air.

          • rox123

            Thanks for the elaborate explanation. Now it makes more sense.

          • mabelcruet

            Thanks for taking it in the spirit intended-I got very wary discussing the case online because it provoked some very unpleasant responses on people. He was such a sad case, it was horrible for everyone concerned. He had been in the paediatric ICU for well over a year, the doctors and nurses looking after him had developed a strong relationship then along came a faith based pressure group that persuaded the father the doctors were deliberately killing his son. It ended up with screaming mobs trying to storm the hospital and the police having to guard the place. Staff were being followed and getting death threats. There were bizarre conspiracy theories going round, like he’d been the subject of an experiment and that had finished so they were just going to kill him (the ‘evidence’ for being an experiment was all the blood tests he kept having). There were claims they were killing him to save money (he’d been in ICU for well over a year at a cost of >>millions, money was never an issue). And then you got the folk saying that if he was going to die anyway, what was the harm in taking him to Italy, it was worth a try. The harm he would have suffered was irrelevant to these people.

            In the UK, the courts are independent from government. A court decision, by an independent judge, having heard evidence from all sides, is the fairest way of making a decision when there is a question of what is in the non-capacitant person’s best interests. Sometimes the courts agree with the medical side, sometimes with parents. It sounds hard to accept, that parents don’t have ultimate control over their child’s medical care if you’re not in this system of healthcare, but it’s a line of defence protecting children from parents who think laying on of hands is good treatment for cancer, that sort of thing.

          • rox123

            I am aware of what I call ‘paranoid reactions’ in people who see conspiracies everywhere. I was sure I was missing some information, my opinion was largely what you said people used to say “if he was going to die anyway…” – except I thought he was brain dead already and whatever parents decided wasn’t going to change anything so why not let the parents try that if it wasn’t harming anyone. But as I said I had some reservation of my opinion anyway. Getting older and seeing my opinions change through the years made me more wary of my current beliefs as well.

    • RudyTooty

      “If one refuses treatment for one’s child I think the court should step in and take the child from the parents. They clearly aren’t fit to raise them.”

      This sounds like a very expensive option for a society to bear.

      Which refusals of treatment would require child placement outside of the home, and which wouldn’t?

      Refusal of dental sealants?
      Refusal of vaccines?
      Refusal of antibiotics for an ear-infection?
      Refusal of medication management of ADHD?
      Refusal of chemotherapy and radiation for cancer treatment?

      • Ravens Starr

        I think it’s more expensive for society to bear the cost of adults thrust out into the world who have never had proper medical treatment and have teeth falling out of their head, are dying of cancer that has proceeded past ability to treat, are deaf from an ear infection that destroyed their hearing, and so on. Obviously as someone who is not a doctor I can’t decide each case, but a court informed by medical professionals could.

  • mabelcruet

    I don’t know if USA legislation is different, but in the UK the question of capacity comes into it. People have the right to reject whatever medical treatment they want, but only if they are judged to have the capacity to do so, meaning that they understand what condition they have, what treatment or not is recommended, and what the consequences could be if they choose not to follow the medically recommended treatment. For children under a certain age and those who have conditions such as dementia which mean they don’t understand the issues proceed with treatment based on their best interests (which is not what the general public seem to think-in general my impression has been that if someone can’t make a decision for themselves, the family/next of kin seem to think that its up to them to decide, and legally its not at all).

    This has led to a huge body of case law-one case was a man with severe mental health issues (he had schizophrenia and in a long stay high security mental hospital). He needed a limb amputation and refused point blank-it went to court and the judge ruled that mental illness did not mean he had lost capacity and he fully understood that if he didn’t have the amputation he could die, but that was his choice (he didn’t, and he didn’t die in the end). In another case, a labouring woman refused to have a section because she had a fear of needles. The medical team got an emergency magistrates hearing and it was ruled that the process of labour, the pain and the unreasonable fear of needle all made her incapable of making a decision and she lacked capacity to decide, so the court ruled they went ahead with the section against her wishes. Afterwards she sued the hospital and won-it was ruled that she had capacity and even though her decision may have seemed perverse to others, she was entitled to make that choice.

    So I wonder if there is any possibility that this very grey area could be applied to freebirthing? The court could choose to look at the reasons why women plan to deliver in this way (fear of doctors, fear of hospitals, fear about medical interventions etc) and potentially decide that fear means they aren’t capable of making a carefully appraised decision. It couldn’t be on the basis of saving the baby’s life, but it could be on the basis of what is in the woman’s best interests (as in, its in her best interests not to die of overwhelming sepsis, or massive haemorrhage from uterine rupture or post-partum bleeding).

    • I would think (I would hope) that the courts also look at relative likelihood of outcomes. Freebirth comes with a significantly higher risk of hemorrhage or sepsis, but it’s definitely not guaranteed or anywhere close. Any specific medical case can be judged on a case by case basis, but as a group it’s not that simple. You couldn’t say that all freebirthers are too scared of hospitals to be capable of making a carefully appraised decision, because that’s … simply not true. I think all the reasons for freebirth are wrong and stupid, but they are not all fear-based. Indeed, lack-of-fear of childbirth complications leads to freebirth as often, or more often, than irrational fear of hospitals.

      • mabelcruet

        I agree, in the cases that end up in court at the moment, it is very much a rare occurrence and on a case by case basis. It’s not something that is at all amenable to a one size fits all approach, not in any way.

        My response was answering Raven Starr’s opening sentence that from a legal standpoint there is little that can be done about freebirthing. I’m saying that there is a potential that legal action could be taken against freebirthing. In the UK, it’s a criminal offence to act as a midwife when you are not qualified (other than in an emergency), so home births with just a doula or just your partner are illegal. ‘Child destruction’ is a criminal offence-causing the loss of an infant who would have been capable of extra-uterine life, so that’s potentially a law that could be used if it’s considered the mother acted so recklessly as to deliberately neglect and endanger the child. So we do have a bit of a legal framework in place that might deter this sort of birth in the UK, but I don’t know how things stand in other jurisdictions.

        • Ravens Starr

          I don’t believe there is any form of home birthing that is illegal here. There could be technical things about being a birthing assistant that are illegal but it might just be if you misrepresent yourself – in any case I suppose any woman can just say “the baby came too fast”, and prosecution would be difficult if no parties cooperate.

    • Ravens Starr

      USA position is, in virtually every case, parents have absolute right over their children in medical decisions. Children have zero say, none, zip, nada. This includes children who are 16 years old. Except in dire emergencies, parents can refuse treatment for their child and even then it is considered “controversial”. If the child died, parents can be prosecuted but almost no one does this out of “respect for religion”.

      Probably the only way freebirthing could be stopped in the US legally would be in a way that would limit abortion rights, as in, expansion/hardening of the “causing fetal death” laws, which are already controversial and which can be used against pregnant women who have miscarriages. Generally now these are used against people who shoot a pregnant woman in a robbery or who hit a pregnant woman in a car accident and cause her fetus to die.

      I feel like it won’t become a huge trend – I mean, I’d like to think that many people aren’t very stupid – but I’ve seen some very intelligent women turn to the homebirthing movement, and I actually was threatened with a forum ban elsewhere for having it out with this ludicrous woman in the cult who promotes natural homebirthing, because she is wildly popular and an influencer. So idk.

  • demodocus

    I agree. Even if “Lisa” were my friend, I don’t think any letter but straight up condolence is the moral thing to do. Yes, what she did was stupid, but by god, do we write “I told you so” letters to a brother even after we told him not to eat that hamburger because it’d been sitting out too long and he was hospitalized as a result? Only a complete a-hole would do that. We should, however, continue to warn people about spoiled food. Maybe if we aren’t obnoxious, he’ll be more likely to not do the stupid thing if there’s a next time.

    • mabelcruet

      I agree completely. A significant proportion of my ‘sudden and unexpected infant deaths’ cot death cases occur when the parent/s have brought the baby into bed with them, or onto the sofa, or fallen asleep in the chair, whilst the parent was under the effects of alcohol, drugs or medication. It’s a common theme-horribly sad every time, no one set out to smother or suffocate their baby and they’ll live with it for the rest of their lives. Yes, its a stupid thing to do. Yes, there’s loads of data out there saying its a stupid thing to do. Yes, every parent gets given information about creating a safe sleeping environment. But it still happens, and every time the coroner holds an inquest its in the local newspaper and he’s doing his usual public health warning about co-sleeping whilst under the effects of alcohol.

      But no one attacks the parents in court-the parents are treated as I would hope any bereaved parent is treated, with courtesy and sympathy. My condemnation is reserved for those who undermine medical and nursing advice and who should know better (like those bloody stupid midwives who think babies should be sleeping with their mums on day 1 of life whilst the mum is still groggy from anaesthetic from her emergency CS and the midwife said this would help her bond. Instead-dead baby, distraught mum, complete change of hospital policy following months of ‘it wasn’t our fault, its natural to co-sleep…’)

      • Ravens Starr

        I don’t know. I mean, if someone comes to me and says “My baby died!” I am clearly horrified and sympathetic. And then if I ask the obvious next question, “What happened?” and they say “I decided to have my baby at home with no help despite the fact that I was 2 weeks overdue and had been in labor 3 days with no progress and other bad signs and eventually he just came out and was born still, the little angel, I just did what my friends on facebook told me to do!” I just… don’t know what I would say. I think I’d just have to walk away. I can’t garner much sympathy for someone who literally killed their baby when help was a 911 call away and then blames peer pressure.

        • mabelcruet

          I can see your point of view, but I think some people are fairly easily led, and it seems to me that the women leading these types of birth cults are charismatic and very persuasive, and once you’re embedded in the cult its hard to extricate yourself. Seeing the screenshots from some of the mothers asking for help and then being reassured that all was well-a stronger minded person might have said ‘no, that doesn’t sound right, I’m calling an ambulance,’, but if your self-worth and belief is wrapped up by being accepted into this group I can see why some people wouldn’t have the confidence to break ranks. To me its no difference from David Koresh, Jim Jones, David Berg, Warren Jeffs etc. Homebirthers control women by birth-shaming, and it makes women crave their approval and go against their natural instinct (and for most people, their natural instinct is to seek out help when in difficulty). So I do have sympathy for them I think, but far more for their poor lost babies.

    • Anna

      This! Legally you’ll never outlaw freebirth or “ban homebirth” as I and others are often accused of trying to do. What I hope is that if the consequences are exposed very few people will choose to do it and those that do wont be doing so under false pretences.

    • Platos_Redhaired_Stepchild

      “I’m sorry your child had a fool for a mother.”