This book investigates why women choose ‘birth outside the system’ and makes connections between women’s right to choose where they birth and violations of human rights within maternity care systems.
Choosing to birth at home can force women out of mainstream maternity care, despite research supporting the safety of this option for low risk women attended by midwives. When homebirth is not supported as a birthplace option, women will defy mainstream medical advice, and if a midwife is not available choose either an unregulated careprovider or birth without assistance. This book examines the circumstances and drivers behind why women nevertheless choose homebirth by bringing legal and ethical perspectives together with the latest research on high risk homebirth (breech and twin births), freebirth, birth with unregulated careproviders and the oppression of midwives who support unorthodox choices. Stories from women who have pursued alternatives in Australia, Europe, Russia, the UK, the US, Canada, the Middle East and India are woven through the research.
Insight and practical strategies are shared by doctors, midwives, lawyers, anthropologists, sociologists and psychologists on how to manage the tension between professional obligations and women’s right to bodily autonomy. This book, the first of its kind, is an important contribution to considerations of place of birth and human rights in childbirth.
Part 1- understanding the problem
Hannah Dahlen, Bashi Hazard and Virginia Schmied
Freebirth in the United States
Rixa Freeze Laura Tanner
Giving birth outside the system in Australia: Freebirth and high risk homebirth
Understanding women’s motivations to, and experiences of, freebirthing in the UK
Claire Feeley and Gill Thomson
Birthing outside the system in the Netherlands
The rise of the unregulated birth worker in Australia: The canary flees the coal mine
Identifying the poisonous gases seeping into the coal mine: what women seek to avoid in choosing to give birth at home
Heather Crawford and Hannah Dahlen
The journey of homebirth after caesarean (HBAC): fighting the system or birthing in peace
Hazel Keedle and Sarah O’Connor
Seeking control over birth in the Middle East
Suha Hussein, Virginia Schmied
Why South Asian women make extreme choices in childbirth
Kaveri Mayra and Bashi Hazard
Birth choices in Eastern Europe and Russia
Daniella Drandic and Nickolas Rubashkin, Tamara Sadovaya and Svetlana Illarionova
The modern day witch hunt
Hannah Dahlen and Jo Hunter
Birth trauma: The noxious by product of a failing system
Maddy Simpson and Agy Cater
Part 2- working towards a solution
What are women’s legal rights when it comes to choice in pregnancy and childbirth?
Farah Diaz-Tello and Bashi Hazard
The role of the coroner in Australia: listen to or ignore the canary?
Keeping the Canary singing: Maternity care plans and respectful homebirth transfer
Rebecca Jenkinson and Deb Fox
Why Aboriginal women want avoid the biomedical system: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Stories
Donna Hartz, Sue Cutmore, Dea Thiele, Cherisse Buzzacott, Mel Briggs
Midwifing women who make ‘off menu choices’
Kathryn Gutteridge and Hannah Dahlen
Anthropologist, midwife, researcher: a perspective on birth outside the system
A conversation with the ‘breech whisperer’
Andrew Bisits interviewed by Hannah Dahlen
Obstetricians discuss the coal mine and the Canary
Alison Barrett and Andrew Kotaska