Janet Fraser, how joyous is the birth if the baby is dead?

I am horrifed by my most recent “award.” Not by the “award” itself; it’s the usual fact-free drivel that passes for humor among homebirth advocates:

I am very pleased to announce that the inaugural Wingnut Awards have been voted upon by JB [Joyous Birth] festival attendees, and that the following nominees have been successful in achieving the status of Wingnuttery…

The Wingnut Award for Online Contributions to the Homebirth Disinformation Campaign was awarded to Dr Amy. Congratulations Dr Amy! If anyone knows where we can send her certificate, please let us know!

… [C]ongratulations to the winners. Craptastic effort all round! Good thing there are still so many people happy to shoulder the burden of keeping women in our place or who knows what we might achieve?!

That’s your standard homebirth advocates’ charge against me, and, as usual, no one dares to site a specific instance of “disinformation” for fear that it will be shown that I am right and they are wrong.

No, I’m not horrified by the award; I’m horrified by the presenter, Janet Fraser, the leading Australian advocate of unassisted childbirth (stuntbirth). I’m distressed that any woman would consider sacrificing the life of her child for bragging rights, but I’m appalled that someone whose baby is actually dead as the result of her selfishness and self-absorption would go on being self-absorbed.

Janet Fraser, have you no shame? Your precious baby is dead and your refusal to seek prenatal care or assistance in birth is very likely to blame. And, amazingly, you are treating the entire subject as a big joke.

Fraser was interviewed in late March 2009, supposedly after labor with her third child had begun:

Janet Fraser is in labour… Has she called the hospital to let them know what’s happening? “When you go on a skiing trip, do you call the hospital to say, ‘I’m coming down the mountain, can you set aside a spot for me in the emergency room?’ I don’t think so,” says Fraser, whose breathing sounds strained.

This is pretty much where we end the conversation that started with me calling Fraser and asking if it was true that her organisation, Joyous Birth, was advocating that women go it alone giving birth at home, with no midwife or GP or bags of resuscitation gadgets.

“Free-birthing, plenty of women do it,” she says. In fact, Fraser is doing it right now. “I prefer to be an autonomous care-provider,” she says…

Janet Fraser’s son, 5, was planned as a home birth, but came into the world via an emergency caesarean after Fraser was transferred to hospital. Her daughter, 2, was born at home with a midwife attending.

Fraser is 40. She hasn’t seen a doctor or any health professional since becoming pregnant this time. No ultrasound, no genetic testing, no internal examinations, no stethoscope. Does she have any feeling for how long the labour will go? “I could do this for days. My daughter’s birth was 50-something hours. You just do it — it’s just birth, a normal physiological process.”

And death in childbirth is also a normal physiologic process, albeit less than ideal. It happens like this:

… [T]he natural water birth of her third child, a girl, at her home went horribly wrong in the early hours of March 27.

Ambulances were sent to the address following a triple-0 call made at 1.13am.

An ambulance service spokesman said paramedics were called to a Croydon Park address for a newborn baby who had suffered cardiac arrest and was not breathing.

Paramedics failed to revive the baby throughout the journey to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital at Camperdown.

“They were basically working on the baby all the way to the hospital,” the spokesman said.

Looking at Fraser’s website and blog, I can find no mention of the dead baby. Indeed, I can find no evidence that Fraser has publicly mentioned the baby since her death. Not only was the baby’s life erased by her mother’s tragic self-absorption; the baby’s very existence has been blotted out to continue the illusion that unassisted childbirth is safe and “joyous.”

But a full term baby who dies in labor should not be forgotten so easily. Tell us, Ms. Fraser, how joyous is the birth if the baby is dead?