Freebirther: A live baby is not everybody’s goal.

Narcissist word with red crown

Freebirth, childbirth without medical assistance of any kind, is a stunt, a piece of performance art. As such, the baby is merely a prop and an expendable prop at that.

Don’t believe me? Believe Desirea Miller, leader of a freebirth group, discussing the idea of opting to get checked by medical personnel in the midst of a freebirth.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Freebirth is an extreme sport where the performance is the point.[/pullquote]

A live baby is usually the goal. Not everybody has that same goal but if that’s your goal, there’s no shame in going to get checked.

Who is Desirea Miller?


Among other things, she’s the co-creator at Holistically Empowered Rebel Birth Keepers Academy of Learning (HERBAL), which has the best logo ever!!


Kudos to Desirea for having the courage to say what many freebirthers already believe. Freebirth is not about reproductive freedom and it’s certainly not about babies. It’s a form of extreme sport where the performance is the point.

What are extreme sports? A 2004 study offered this definition:

‘true’ extreme sports [are] a leisure or recreation activity where the most likely outcome of a mismanaged accident or mistake was death.

According to David Le Breton, Playing Symbolically with Death in Extreme Sports:

Many amateur sportsmen in the West, have today started undertaking long and intensive ordeals where their personal capacity to withstand increasing suffering is the prime objective… [P]eople without any particular ability are not pitting themselves against others but are committed to testing their own capacity to withstand increasing pain… Going right on to the end of a self-imposed ordeal gives a legitimacy to life and provides a symbolic plank that supports them…

In Death, danger and the selling of risk in adventure sports, a chapter in the book, Understanding Lifestyle Sport: Consumption, Identity and Difference by Belinda Wheaton, Catherine Palmer notes:

…[This] conceptual collapse between risk and mainstream … creates the impression that anyone can partake in these kinds of activities. The fact that inexperienced actors can leap from a plane or bungy jump creates the illustion that no expertise is needed to engage in extreme sports. In other words, these made-for-media versions of extreme sports are short-lived imitations of risk, rather than serious sporting … in which physicial fitness and technical knowledge are of paramount importance… [This] mediated normalisation of risk taking in particularly problematic in that it gives the impression that nothing goes wrong in extreme sports. In popular packaging, those activities … are presented as being entirely without risk or danger.

… The selling of risk is a careful exercise in discursive manipulation … [and] particularly tragic consequences … have accompanied this selling of risk …

Although freebirth is legal as a matter of reproductive freedom, freebirth itself is not really about reproductive freedom but rather about risking death, withstand pain and empowerment through a self-imposed ordeal that requires neither physical fitness nor technical skill. The beauty of freebirth is that the death being risked is that of the baby; the risk to the mother is much smaller. This feature explains that refusal of freebirthers to seek medical care to save the life of the baby (it is just a prop) while simultaneously seeking out medical care to save their own lives.

To paraphrase Wheaton and Palmer, freebirth isn’t the equivalent of jumping from a plane or bungy jumping, it’s the equivalent of throwing your baby from a plane or attaching a bungy cord to a baby and flinging it off a cliff. All the excitement, but none of the danger. It isn’t playing symbolically with one’s death; it is actively risking the death of another.

Seeking advice for no better reason that to save the life of your baby is frowned upon and often deleted. As Desirea explains:


Reaching out and asking for advice during labor while free birthing is extremely harmful. Freebirth is to be intuition led, not suggestion led. When a mama opens up her mind to other suggestions, thoughts, energies, and opinions, she is skewing her intuition…

If anyone is seen partaking in this kind of dangerous act within the group during labor, their comments/posts will be removed… We’d love to hear how you rocked your birth, but we aren’t here for suggestions during labor…

So giving birth without medical care of any kind is safe, but seeking advice is dangerous? Those claims only make sense if a live baby is not everybody’s goal. The performance, and the associated bragging rights, is everybody’s goal. Getting help of any kind, including help to save the baby’s life, ruins the performance.

Fortunately for freebirthers, getting help to save your own life is just fine. Otherwise how would you go on to have a healing freebirth of your rainbow baby next time?