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.