Requests from the Media

A major US television network is exploring the possibility of making a documentary about unassisted childbirth. I spoke with the producer for over an hour the other day and she seemed very receptive! She's interested in speaking with pregnant women in the US who are planning on giving birth unassisted sometime in the next 6 months. If you’d like to participate, please send me your name, phone number, email address, location and a paragraph or two about yourself, and I’ll pass it along to the producer –

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I’m passing this along for Lynn Griesemer, author of Unassisted Homebirth: An Act of Love: A reporter from a prominent US magazine is doing a story on unassisted birth and would like to interview someone in the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic who recently gave birth (within 6 months; planned, unassisted) or is currently pregnant and planning an unassisted homebirth. The reporter is particularly interested in a couple whose first or second child was / is going to be an unassisted birth. The magazine's desire is to visit in person, interview and take photos. Contact me if you'd like to participate. Lynn Griesemer,

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I’m passing this along for Anna Edwinson, a producer for Granada Media (participants need to be either in the US or UK): Channel 4 is making a documentary called “Wet Nurse” for one of the UK’s most acclaimed networks. We want to make an informative, thought provoking, fair and compassionate film exploring the need of a wet nurse in today’s modern society.

Now with health scares about formula milk, an increase in plastic surgery and women who can’t or won’t breastfeed – a wet nurse has its use. This added with gay couples – especially since the law changed allowing them to adopt – could a wet nurse make a comeback and become culturally accepted?

What I’m particularly looking for are women who can’t or won’t breastfeed and are currently engaged in casual or paid wet nursing. I’m also looking to speak to women who are currently cross feeding or wet nursing. It’s a complicated issue and I need your help to make sense of it all. You can email to discuss further.

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(This next one isn't from the media but I'm including it anyway.)

I’m passing this along for midwifery student, Clare Singleton: My name is Clare and I am a midwifery student at Yale School of Nursing. I am interested in Unassisted Childbirth and would like to do a case study. I am looking for women who would be interested in participating which would include filling out questionnaires once a month throughout their pregnancy and 2 weeks postpartum. All information provided will be kept confidential and no identifying information will be used in the final paper. I am currently working with my faculty to determine if written consent will be necessary.

My aim in conducting a case study to not only more learn about Unassisted Childbirth on a personal level and as a future health care provider, but also to present an objective view of the practice to the midwifery community. Those women who would like to participate can contact me at

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Please feel free to repost or pass these requests along to anyone you think might be interested.
Posted on February 22, 2008 and filed under unassisted childbirth.

Censorship on YouTube

I try to be a positive person. It takes a lot to make me mad. But when a birth clip I posted was deleted by both YouTube and Google I got mad. Below is a letter I sent to YouTube today. I welcome comments from anyone that has had a similar experience.

To Whom It May Concern:

Many wonderful childbirth videos have been deleted by YouTube supposedly because they violate your obscenity policies. Homebirth and natural childbirth videos are specifically being targeted, yet many are far less graphic than hospital birth videos which show close up images of vaginas being cut by doctors (episiotomies) and other interventions. Perhaps when birth is presented as a medical event it is viewed as acceptable but when it is presented as a natural, loving act between a woman, her baby and her partner it is viewed as sexual and therefore obscene.

My lovely video that was deleted by YouTube is now posted on my site.

Can YouTube tell me why my video was taken down yet these were not? Clip 1 and Clip 2

Censorship at YouTube is currently being discussed on message boards such as this one.

Those who have complained to YouTube have received letters of denial:

----- Original Message -----
From: "YouTube Support"
Sent: Saturday, June 30, 2007 10:06 AM
Subject: Re: YouTube Support

Thanks for your email.

Actually, we are not taking videos of natural birth down. If you could
please provide the URLs to the videos in question, I'll be able to look
into this matter further.

The YouTube Team

The letter above was sent on June 30th. I received the letter below on June 23rd.

Dear Member:
After being flagged by members of the YouTube community and reviewed by YouTube staff, the video below has been removed due to its inappropriate nature.

An unassisted childbirth:

Please refer to our Terms of Use and the Community Guidelines for more information on what video material is not permitted on YouTube.

The YouTube Team

YouTube has also deleted videos containing footage of mothers breastfeeding their babies. I understand that there are people that find natural birth and breastfeeding offensive and no doubt they will continue to flag these videos. I have no problem with these videos being flagged, as all one has to do is click a button stating they are over 18. But I see no reason to delete them entirely. Giving birth and breastfeeding a child are NOT obscene acts. YouTube should welcome these videos with open arms, as they are helping to break down society’s fears and misconceptions about these most natural and life-affirming activities.

Laura Shanley
Bornfree! The Unassisted Childbirth Page

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Postscript: Aug. 29 - today my video suddenly reappeared! I ended up sending 3 letters to YouTube (including the one above), so perhaps they decided to reconsider their position on homebirths! Hopefully it will stay up!

Update: March 2009 - The video remained up until July of 2008 when YouTube deleted it once again (see my blog posting about it here). This time they sent me a message telling me that my account would be permanently disabled if I reposted the video again. This seemed quite harsh, considering I had never reposted the video, they had. In any case, they did not respond to my request to repost it.

A Challenge to Hollywood

Kate Kelland’s article about unassisted childbirth (also known as freebirth) was published last night - Freebirthers dismiss fear and bring babies home. I thought Kate did a nice job! The article has been picked up by quite a few newspapers and web sites around the world – ABC News, CNN, Scientific American, China Daily and others. It’s exciting to think that many people are being exposed to UC (unassisted childbirth) probably for the first time.

But here is my concern – and it really isn’t as much of a concern as it is a prediction. Knowing Hollywood, it is only a matter of time before some character in a television drama, sitcom, or feature film intentionally has an unassisted birth. Will they show a woman blissfully catching her own baby? Perhaps even with a smile on her face? Or better yet, as she sighs with pleasure rather than pain? Is there anyone in Hollywood who will dare to present intentional unassisted childbirth in a positive light? Or will they continue to perpetuate the idea that childbirth, left to its own devices, will naturally go wrong? This, of course, is the prevailing view held by medical professionals around the world.

“Dr. Crippen” a British National Health Service doctor who was quoted in the article claims that "giving birth is the most dangerous thing that most women will do during their life....Does a mother not owe a duty of care to her baby? Should a mother not take reasonable care to protect the baby when she gives birth?”

Actually doctor, a mother should take reasonable care to protect the baby – which is why I chose to have all of my children at home, unassisted. Not only does research prove that childbirth is not inherently dangerous, it also proves that hospitals are NOT the safest place to give birth. According to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Vol. 284, July 26, 2000), 250,000 people die each year due to iatrogenic causes (iatrogenic is defined as "induced in a patient by a physician's activity, manner, or therapy").

While the study does not say how many of those deaths are birth related, the fact that childbirth is the most common reason for hospital admissions leads me to believe that thousands of mothers and babies are dying as a result of a physician's treatment. In his book, The Five Standards for Safe Childbearing, David Stewart, PhD, asserts that every 29 minutes a baby dies unnecessarily in a US hospital. Anyone who claims it is safer to give birth in the hospital than it is at home simply hasn't done their research. There is something very wrong with our medical system today - both here and abroad - and women around the world are starting to take notice.

Certainly a homebirth with a midwife is a step in the right direction. But few midwives can legally allow a woman to give birth in her own way and in her own time. In most countries, midwives are required to intervene throughout labor, despite the fact that research shows that intervening in birth causes problems.

And so the question remains, will anyone in Hollywood have the courage to tell the truth about birth?

Posted on May 23, 2007 and filed under unassisted childbirth.

Article in Canadian national newspaper

As promised, the Globe and Mail published an article today about UC: DIY delivery by Adriana Barton. Once again there were the obligatory negative comments from doctors and midwives, but I thought the reporter did a nice job! Marie Claire in the UK also published a UC article: The women having 'extreme births'. Short but nice!

Posted on May 15, 2007 and filed under unassisted childbirth.

Media month in the Shanley household!

May has been a month of unprecedented media attention, both for Unassisted Childbirth and for my family in particular! May 1st the Boulder Daily Camera published an article about my daughter Joy: A model of good health: Local model enjoys career as a size 12. The following week, I was quoted (and unfortunately misquoted) in two articles about Unassisted Childbirth: Going it alone by Viv Groskop for the Guardian (UK) and Baby's Day Out for Westword (Denver, CO) by Jared Jacang Maher. The Guardian article has generated a lot of media interest from the UK! The Westword article has generated absolutely no interest from the US! I'm actually not surprised. :)

This morning I was interviewed on Irish radio, and tomorrow I've been told another article about UC (Unassisted Childbirth) will be published in the Canadian Globe and Mail, with a Reuters article soon to follow. Today my son Willie (professionally known as "Will") had two articles on the front page of the business section of the Denver Post: What price internships? and Better hunting, bigger salaries greet graduates. Very exciting!

Posted on May 14, 2007 and filed under unassisted childbirth.