A registered nurse started a GoFundMe to pay for her planned unassisted childbirth. When the baby died after birth, she updated the campaign to help cover the costs of the funeral. The campaign provides an inside look into the mind of a woman that opts to ‘free birth.’
In the campaign, the mother shares her reason for not wanting to birth in a hospital. She says that after becoming a registered nurse, she began to distrust Western medicine. After spending five years working bedside, the woman did not want to be a patient at a hospital under any circumstances.
“My fears were related both to personal trauma from several recent deaths in the family as well as to professional trauma from experiences that I walked through with patients and their families at the bedside.”
When she had her first child, the nurse said she hired a midwife and doula for a home birth. She said the midwife performed nearly all of her prenatal appointments at her home. The midwife delivered her baby and provided post-natal care following the delivery. She described the birth as amazing.
By her second child, the woman said that there was no money to pay for a midwife. Due to her insurance not covering homebirth, she paid for the midwife out of pocket. For her second birth, she delivered at a hospital with a midwife. According to the woman, the hospital delivery was less than optimal.
“The hospital I gave birth at allowed for LABORING in the birthing tub but NOT for BIRTHING in the birthing tub. (I’m not even going to get into the details and argument related to that here.) So, as I was getting VERY close to giving birth I was still floating comfortably in the birthing tub.
In my recollection I could feel the baby’s head between my legs when it became obvious to the hospital staff that I was about to give birth and they FORCED me out of the tub. What I mean is that I was pulled by arms and legs out of the tub and flopped onto the floor of the hospital just outside the tub.”
She went on to write that the birth experience made her feel violated and upset,
“I felt unsafe and violated. The birth took quite a bit longer at this point because of how uncomfortable and fearful I was at this point. I vividly remember yelling at the hospital staff to get there hands out of me. I felt my clearly stated wishes about the birth plan were completely ignored.
Immediately after giving birth I was given the baby for just a few moments then the hospital staff encouraged daddy to take the baby from me to be weighed and dressed.
Because my hormones were SO disturbed and my baby was not in my arms skin to skin with me after birth I was told I needed a shot of Pitocin to prevent hemorrhage. I adamantly refused and demanded that my baby be brought to me and allowed to nurse to prevent hemorrhage.”
After the less than ideal birth, she believed that she failed herself by not listening to her intuition. When she became pregnant a third time, she knew that she did not want to deliver in the hospital. However, the fact that her family could not afford a midwife meant that she would be forced to deliver with no assistance.
The decision to deliver without a midwife is one that does not come without risks. Without proper medical care, mothers are at risk of severe complications occurring to both them and their baby. Also, she opted not to have any prenatal care.
A recent study published on homebirth found that babies born at home are three times more likely to die than in the hospital. Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and its affiliated Soroka University Medical Center compared the births of 3,580 homebirths to 240,000 hospital births in Israel. The study reviewed birth data between 1991-2014.
According to the study, 15 out of every 1,000 babies born at home are at risk of dying. By comparison, babies born in the hospital died at a rate of 5 out of every 1,000 births.
Similar studies conducted in the United States have indicated that out of hospital births are far more deadly for the baby and the mother. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that babies born at home have poorer outcomes than those born in a hospital.
Despite these risks, women around the world opt for homebirth. Homebirth alone carries high risks for the baby. However, in this case, the mother chose for no prenatal care or assistance for her birth. Freebirthers believe that women’s bodies are made for birth, and they minimize the risks associated with pregnancy and childbirth. They romanticize the birthing experience and create a fantasy of how the birth should go.
For the mother in this story, insurance played a critical role for her opting out of using a midwife. She believed her hospital birth was traumatic. Whether the experience was as terrible as she describes is not known. However, that bad experience thrust her into the wild west of birth.
For the third child, she decided she would do the entire birth on her own. She and her husband prepared their house for the birth. In October, she set up the GoFundMe to ask for donations to help pay for a post-partum doula, placenta encapsulation, supplements, herbal teas, and food to help aid in her breastfeeding.With her baby due at the end of January, she seemed excited about the process.
“In preparation for the birth of Bodhi I have chosen to take a new and adventurous path. I plan to birth Bodhi in the comfort and tranquility of our own home surrounded by my husband and our two beautiful boys.”
There were no additional updates to the campaign until early February. Her due date was in early February, and the update should have been about Bodhi’s arrival. Instead, she updated to say that Bodhi was born on January 30th and never took his first breath.
Despite their efforts to arouse him, she said he never came around. Her update included details on her son’s funeral and viewing. She requested donations to help cover the costs of a headstone.
There are few details regarding the nature of his death or why he never took a breath. An image shared on the GoFundMe shows a blue colored infant wrapped in a blanket.
Could the outcome of her birth have been different if she delivered in a hospital? There is no way to know. However, if the baby had a congenital disability that made breathing difficult, doctors could have attempted emergency resuscitation or placed the baby on a ventilator to aid in breathing.
Because she limited prenatal care, she likely had few ultrasounds during her pregnancy. Scans during the pregnancy could have spotted any defects that could cause issues at birth. Without having any scans or tests, she went into the delivery utterly ignorant about the health of her baby.
The outcome for the mother is terrible. She felt that her only option was to free birth. Based on her experience working as an RN and her past delivery, she thoroughly distrusted the medical community. With this fear guiding her choice, she put herself and her baby in a dangerous position. Unfortunately, the baby didn’t survive, and now she is grieving her son’s death.
Freebirthing is a dangerous practice for everyone involved. Something within our health system needs to change, so women don’t fear to go to the hospital to deliver. Women also need to let go of the idea that birth is inherently safe and easy.
Birth is the single most dangerous day for both the mother and the baby. Hospital births ensure both patients are treated promptly when emergencies arise. When you chose to deliver at home without help, you have no one to guide you, help you, or save your baby’s life when things go wrong.
The free birth movement is killing babies at an alarming rate. At some point, we need to start to find ways to reengage these women into safer birth practices.
How we accomplish that remains to be seen.
*All information about this article came from a public GoFundMe account. Please do not dox nor harass the mother in this case. She is grieving. I have not included her name for a reason. Thank you!
Want a deeper dive into the story? Are you interested in learning about the history of Free Birth? Watch my video below. Make sure to subscribe to my channel.
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
She co-hosts the YouTube show, “The Smoking Nun,” with Kyle Curtis. The show airs weekly and tackles pseudoscience, current events, and crime stories.
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