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Birthing out of the system

02 July 2021
5 min read
Volume 29 · Issue 7
 Women are challenging mainstream maternity care by opting for freebirth
Women are challenging mainstream maternity care by opting for freebirth

Abstract

Could the rise in freebirth in medicalised societies be a sign of a broken maternity system? Dr Clare Davison endeavours to answer this question

A growing amount of research suggests the rise in women choosing to freebirth is partly in response to the system not meeting the needs of women who want continuity of care and a non-medicalised birth (Feeley and Thomson, 2016; Holten and Miranda, 2016; Jackson et al, 2020).

Birthing outside of mainstream maternity services can be loosely divided into two categories: women choosing to birth at home with a registered midwife, even though they have medically defined risk factors that would class them as at increased risk of complications and/or exclude them from midwifery led care; and women choosing to freebirth. Freebirth, sometimes referred to as unassisted birth, is a practice where women intentionally give birth without healthcare professionals present in countries where there are medical facilities available (Mc Kenzie et al, 2020). Although the actual numbers of freebirths cannot be verified due to the birth taking place away from the health system and the required reporting system, freebirth is reportedly becoming more common.

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