Some women choose an unassisted or ‘wild’ pregnancy intentionally from the beginning. Others decide at some stage through their pregnancy to forego industrialised antenatal care and to take full and radical responsibility for their wellbeing and the decisions about how they will honour this season.
Just like freebirth, wild pregnancy is becoming more common as women seek to be in control of how they spend this honoured time. Women are tired of the pressure to be squeezed into a box and undergo procedures and tests often not proven in safety, not shown to improve outcomes, and yet used routinely and indiscriminately, pushed onto them with bullying, threats and coercion. All of this to satisfy someone else’s fears and priming a woman to be compliant for her upcoming birth.
Women have discovered there is another way, a way that has always existed. A way that some women are choosing to claim.
Now having witnessed several women who have chosen to take care of their own pregnancies, the thing that I notice is their serenity and more so the absence of fear and anxiety. There is something very special seeing a woman in charge of her body, her birth and her journey to motherhood. More connected, more confident and more knowing about what is right for her. Not looking outside of herself for answers, but within.
Birthing where and with whom you want should be your legal right. Unfortunately in Australia, if your plan is to birth at home, who you choose to have attend your birth has become restricted by ever increasing government requirements for midwives and in the case of hospital offered homebirth programs, many of the rules for access have made personal choice very limited.
This leaves the growing-in-popularity option of unassisted birth, also known as freebirth.
In the past, freebirth was seen by most as a fringe activity chosen by few. But with the ever-growing restriction of midwifery attended homebirth, the decision for women to freebirth has increased dramatically. The interesting thing to note is, that freebirth is seemingly now being treated by women as a choice in its own right.
Women are no longer just choosing it because they can’t have a midwife at their birth, freebirth is being chosen because women feel that they can. Birthing autonomously is fast becoming a normalised birth option for many women. With access to online social networks and well-established resources, such as the Free Birth Society, women are finding a community to support their desires to birth how they want.
Despite threats to many women, such as being told freebirth is illegal or threats of being reported, this choice isn’t lessening in popularity. Access to independent care - care that holds women and their decision-making at the centre - isn’t going to increase, so for women who want to take full responsibility for their births, then this is the birth they are choosing.
And whilst women are receiving threats, so too are many non-medical birth attendants. They are warned off from attending freebirth, however those of us who believe women make wise decisions for themselves and are able to discern the difference between a midwife and a doula, we show up. We smile, we sit and we celebrate women’s choice, because it is always theirs to make.