Freebirth is when a woman goes through an entire pregnancy with no prenatal care, no ultrasounds, no testing, and gives birth without a doctor or midwife at home. Freebirth is an offshoot of unassisted childbirth. In unassisted childbirth, women have babies at home with backup medical plans for an emergency. Recently, a freebirther shared her story online of having an unassisted childbirth at home. Throughout four days, the woman labored quietly at home. She went online to a Facebook group for support dedicated to helping women with free births. Her outcome was heartwrenching, tragic, avoidable, and hit very close to home. Instead of delivering a healthy baby, the woman killed her infant due to having no assistance during her labor.
Before I share the woman’s story, I want to share my own birthing story. Both the woman and I faced similar complications in our births. However, I elected to have proper prenatal care and delivered in a hospital.
The birth of my son was incredibly complicated. I labored for more than four days. Two of those days I spent at home not realizing I had gone into labor. By the second day, I went to the hospital to learn my water had broken. For two more days, I went through the most excruciating pain of my life.
My son was five weeks early. He was lodged sideways in my birth canal. His shoulder was hooked to my vaginal wall, and doctors could not find the front of his face. My son had shoulder dystocia. No matter how hard I pushed, he did not want to come out. Doctors knew that his position made it impossible for me to push him out on my own.
Because he had fallen so far down the birth canal, doctors could not do a cesarean section. Ultimately, they were forced to do an emergency episiotomy and use forceps to pull him out. The result was excruciating for my son and me. My body was ripped several inches to force him out.
Additionally, because of his of prematurity, the entire time I labored, doctors gave me antibiotics. Due to my son’s gestation, I could not be tested yet as a carrier for Strep B. Strep B is a common infection a mother carries and can pass onto their infants. If a baby is born with Strep B or the infection is not managed, the infant can die.
Thankfully, my doctors gave me antibiotics. Testing confirmed post-natally that I did have the infection. I was incredibly grateful knowing I had the medical care to ensure he survived the birth.
Imagine my surprise when today I get screenshots from a reader that mimic my birth, but instead of a positive outcome, the mother gave birth to a dead baby. The reason the baby died was that the mother refused medical care during her pregnancy. Additionally, she decided to labor at home with only her boyfriend present.
The woman began sharing her journey in the group when she was in the middle of her pregnancy. She seemed eager and excited to meet her baby. In one message to the group, she told them about how a friend of her boyfriend was very concerned about her choice not to have any prenatal care.
According to the woman, the friend expressed concerns for her and her baby. He was worried enough to bring up the concerns to her multiple times, and she dismissed his concerns because she felt she knew better.
By the end of her pregnancy, she began sharing her labor with the group. She went into labor at around 42 weeks. In the beginning, she described horrific contractions, vomiting, and back pain.
When a baby is not facing down toward the back, mothers can experience painful back labor. Often the baby is either facing up toward the abdomen, or they are laying sideways in the birthing canal. Both positions can cause birthing complications and back labor. Babies in a transverse position or “sideways” are often undeliverable vaginally.
While she went through the horrific pain of back labor, she went to the group for help. Instead of the group telling her to seek help, they provided her tips on how to position the baby. People shared links on how to spin the baby. Others said back labor was a regular part of childbirth.
The group she sought help from had a strict rule about providing birthing mothers any medical advice. Additionally, the group prohibited the members from suggesting mothers seek help at a hospital. Instead of the mother being alerted that her situation might be dangerous for her and her baby, members cheered her on through the labor.
For four agonizing days, the mother persisted on with her labor at home. She shared with the group that her water broke. At one point she was worried because the fluid was dark, brownish, and had a foul smell. She even worried the baby swallowed meconium. Other mothers told her that a baby swallowing meconium wasn’t a big deal.
The labor of the woman had several red flags that should have been indications to her and the group that something was desperately wrong.
- The baby was two weeks late from their birthdate.
- She labored for five days and had limited progress in the labor.
- She had back pain that was indicative of a malpositioned baby.
- When her water broke, the liquid was brown and discolored. Amniotic fluid should be clear.
- She was concerned her discharge contained meconium (fetal fecal matter) which can be aspirated on by the baby causing infection and death.
- The discharge had a foul smell.
- Her baby stayed in the foul-smelling and discolored discharge for several days.
- She only sought medical help after she no longer felt the baby moving.
Then the messages went silent. People checked in for a few days to bump her posts. Women in the group began to get concerned. What she posted next to the group was both heartbreaking and expected given what she endured for four days.
A few days later, the women let the group know that after several days of making no progress, she and her partner knew they had to go to the hospital. They only went to the hospital after she realized the baby stopped moving. When she thought the baby had died, she sought medical assistance.
When she got to the hospital, ultrasounds confirmed the baby did not have a heartbeat. Doctors also discovered a massive infection in her uterus. Additionally, the baby was positioned with her shoulders sideways. She could not clear the vaginal opening because she was stuck on the pubic bone. While the baby tried to get out, she died from the infection in the uterus.
My heart sank reading this because her situation was 100% preventable. Had she received adequate prenatal care, doctors could have tested her for numerous infections common in pregnant women. She could have been given antibiotics to kill the infection. Also, if she had gone to the hospital days earlier, the doctors would have noted the baby’s position in her uterus. She could have had a C-section to remove the baby from the uterus.
Instead, the mother had no prenatal medical help. She exposed her baby to a treatable infection. Ultimately her selfishness to have an unassisted birth killed her a baby that could have survived.
The group that the mother shared in during her labor aided in the death of the child. No one in the group encouraged her to go to the hospital. The group called Free Birth Society allows no medical help at all. They do not allow medical professionals to give any advice. Their ultimate goal is to ensure mothers have unassisted childbirth.
This mother put herself in a terrible position by picking not to get prenatal help. Her poor choice was magnified by joining a group that enabled her stupid decision.
No baby should die because a mother is too selfish and ignorant to get proper care. Groups like Free Birth Society should not be allowed on Facebook. Now instead of holding a baby girl, this mother is planning her funeral. Free Birth Society has blood on their hands.
For those wondering if the mother was religious or if religion played a factor, based on Instagram posts she made, the answer is yes.
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