Who Killed “Judith’s” Baby?

This is a terrible and tragic story, but I don’t want to focus on that. I want to focus on accountability.

NBC tells the true story (I assume it is true, exactly why, I don’t know, since this is NBC. It’s not related to politics, I guess.) of “Judith” who  worked at a flower shop. On her long daily drive to work and back, she listened to podcasts, and when she got pregnant, she listened  to “The Birth Hour” and “Indie Birth,” podcasts about childbirth stories, which ranged from hospital to home births.The “Free Birth Podcast” excited her particularly.

The podcaster is Emilee Saldaya,  a Los Angeles freebirth advocate and founder of the Free Birth Society that has 46,000 followers on Instagram. The podcast promotes the experiences of women who give birh without assistance, in  bathtubs, fields, or in their own beds, surrounded by their partners loved ones. Doctors were not welcome.

Judith listened to around 70 episodes, some multiple times. A particular favorite was an interview with a woman who had given birth by candlelight in a yurt in the California mountains with only her husband and her dog she called her a “midwolf.”

I’m having a flashback to 1967.

The podcasts began with advertisements for the Free Birth Society’s online courses and private consultations; this is often the tell-tale sign of a cult.  Judith dutifully paid $299 for the group’s 10-module video guide on how to freebirth babies at home. None of the “experts” and “consultants” the group sponsored have medical credentials or experience; that’s the point. Judith didn’t like doctors, so she was a vulnerable target for the group’s message, which emphasized that hospitals were scary places, and hospital births were full of trauma for mother and child.

NBC reports that distrust of the medical profession regarding childbirth is on the rise. A  survey conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families claims that while in 2002, 45 percent of mothers surveyed agreed that “giving birth is a natural process that should not be interfered with unless absolutely medically necessary, the number had increased to 74% by 2018.

Could this possibly be accurate? When did giving birth by squatting and biting on a stick  become cool again?

When she got past to her due date and Judith’s pregnancy approached its tenth month, she relied on the Free Birth Society course’s episode on “long pregnancies” for guidance. That podcast  warned against inducing a pregnancy, a process it referred to as “eviction from the womb.” It insisted that the idea that “babies must be born before 42 weeks is nonsense.”

Judith had her amniotic fluid checked at a local hospital, and though there were no causes for alarm, a doctor thee urged her to schedule an induction. She made the appointment,  but canceled it the next day. She sought, NBC says, a second opinion on Facebook.  “43+1 today, politely declining hospital induction. They think I’m crazy,” Judith posted on Ten Month Mamas in January 2019. “I really feel like this baby wants a home birth too but we are definitely being tested. What would you mamas do?” Hundreds of comments supported her desire for a home-based freebirth.

No one told her she should do what the doctor had advised, and there was a reason for that. Several of the groups had rules forbidding members from suggesting that another member resort to a doctor or a midwife.  “Unassisted Pregnancy & Childbirth,” for example, instructed its  4,600 members,

“This means we don’t want to hear about the tests your midwife wants you to take, or how your OB thinks baby is breech or ‘too big’ or whatever other shit they say. Just don’t. This is not the place. No induction discussion. We do not advocate for induction of any kind, as no induction is natural.” 

Egged on by Facebook extremists, Judith told NBC that she became determined resolved to freebirth alone, “no matter what.”

When the day she had decided to freebirth arrived, Judith “walked and danced for hours through contractions and floated in a pool that her husband filled with water.” She listened to music as a friend massaged her back. She took short naps between contractions…everything she had learned from  the podcasts.  But the pain increased and the breaks between contractions shortened. After 10 hours of labor, Judith started vomiting.  The contractions were coming too fast and violently for her  to monitor the baby’s heart rate with the fetal stethoscope she had bought. Her water broke, and there was dark brown in it, fecal matter that would kill the baby if it was inhaled.  Her husband drove her to the hospital, doubled up in pain. Once there,  Judith got the medical assistance she had vowed  to avoid, but too late. Her baby was dead.

Stipulated: This should not have  happened.

Who’s primarily responsible? For this poll, I’m going to allow multiple voting, because I don’t think there is a single answer.


30 thoughts on “Who Killed “Judith’s” Baby?

  1. Scheduled induction has become the norm for too many OBs who don’t want their lives interrupted by the natural clock. I know several women, all treated by different doctors, who had inductions scheduled, rescheduled, and rescheduled again. The option to wait for natural labor was negated for the patients.

    This opens the door for the unsafe extreme of yurt births and various other crazy ideas. There has been a decades old movement to remove standard medical care from labor and delivery. Doctors aren’t helping with their factory approach.

    TBH I never wanted to know the gender of my children pre-birth, had epidurals, and never had any of my labors induced. There is an in between birth in a field and scheduling it around the doctor’s convenience that we need.

    • A natural labor after nine months is considered dangerous as the baby may become too large to pass through the birth canal.

      Only a fool would try to give birth outside a hospital, in my view. The risks are simply too high, and the non-medical personnel too uninformed.

      • Agreed. A million years ago in my first Lamaze classes the instructor tried to tell us that we could request not to have an IV port. An OR nurse taking the class countered with the facts about the distance from labor and delivery to the OR and care that needed to be started immediately via the IV. We also lucky to have a CRNA classmate who was able to give facts about epidurals vs. the twilight sleep stories from the 50s.

    • Many hospitals are closing their natal units because they are expensive to staff, keeping a full complement on duty for unexpected births at any hour. I can’t help but think this sends a mixed message to those already adverse to medical assistance in giving birth, believing it unnecessary in most cases.

  2. While I think every bracket should have at least a 33% share, even if the math doesn’t work. The free birth advocates and education enabled the problem by putting a loaded gun in the hands of a woman scared of childbirth.

    But the final word was Judith’s, She could have gotten counseling if childbirth was paralyzing in her in fear. If women want to have the final say in their bodies regarding abortion and childbirth, they must accept the responsibility for the consequences of that decision. There are no ‘backsies’ in life and death decisions. I can feel sorry for her loss, but how many tried to warn her and were ignored? Women died in childbirth when alone or without experienced helpers in the old days.

  3. Primarily Judith; secondarily, her husband. Without qualifications or explanations (that is, the virtual cult does not matter).

    What people do not seem to appreciate is that 1) people do not like to be told what to do; and 2) they have problems with the general vs. the particular.

    I don’t like being told what to do. Just because someone tells me to do it does not mean I have to. And, the more you tell me that I have to, the more I question you.

    Thus, when it comes to vaccines, I was apprehensive, not because I don’t understand that they work, but because everyone insisted, without really thinking, that they have to be done. And, they seem to think so without any question. The Polio vaccine works; great. Some are stricken with Polio because of it, but the likelihood is low (general vs. particular). My kids got it, and they are fine, great; had they had an adverse reaction to the vaccine, I would be beating myself up for the decision because I made it.

    And, people think that all vaccines are the same. I don’t concede that. Flu vaccines are very common, very effective, and have very mild complications in most cases. I do not concede that other such vaccines are equally reliable, safe, effective, and without drastic risks.

    And, I don’t understand why they are all grouped together so closely. And, no one will explain it to you. They will treat you like a nut if they try analyzing things.

    And, I avoided vaccines when I was young. Not because I had any problems with vaccines. I hated shots. I got a shot in my leg before Kindergarten and I remember sitting in front of the TV that night in pain from that shot. I asked my mom the next morning when I had to get shots again and she said 4th grade and Junior High. I told her I wanted to skip those grades. For what it is worth, I did manage to quietly get into 4th grade without getting any shots.

    And, they have so many more vaccinations now than they used to (and on an accelerated timeline). How do we know it is safe? We don’t. We also have no proof that it is harmful. In the next 20-30 years, all those kids will have reached middle-age and we will have a good enough test sample to know the effects of these practices.

    Do I sound paranoid enough? Yeah, I don’t trust people who insist I do what they want me to do.

    But, that was a digression, because I don’t have the same apprehensions about pregnancy as Judith did, but I can understand her conflict. She wanted to do everything good for her baby and, while she was trying to avoid trauma for her child, the outcome was so much worse.

    So, how were my kids born. C-section-both of them. One was semi-unscheduled (wife was hospitalized, released, re-admitted, induced, then a C-section (I think in that order; I know the C-section was last, but she may have been induced, and then released); the other was scheduled and then bumped up. We knew the pregnancies would be risky due to a variety of factors. Both were premature. Neither came out at over 6 pounds. But all three, mother included, made it through okay. There was never any question that we would take the course of action recommended by the doctors because we knew and understood the risks involved and the need for the actions we took.

    It is not clear what happened with Judith. Was she too old, too heavy, affected by some other medical condition? I don’t, as a matter of principle, have any problem with people trying to have a non-medical birth. But, a healthy young woman is the best candidate for that experience. And, even then, there can be obvious complications (breach birth) if you don’t, at least, seek medical monitoring leading up to it.

    She and her husband are the ones responsible because they made the decision.


    • There are literally hundreds upon hundreds of scientific studies demonstrating the safety and value of vaccines.

      There are zero scientific studies demonstrating that vaccines are dangerous.

      Please reconsider your stance on vaccination.

      • You misunderstand. You know as well as I do that there are instances where people have bad reactions to vaccines. If that happens to your kid, are you, as a parent, going to say, “well, I am glad I listened to the authorities”?

        It is akin to those who fear flying. I fear flying, but I also do not keep my fear of flying from keeping me from flying.

        I do not think you truly understand the mind-set of the people who have these concerns.


    • Flu vaccines are very common, very effective, and have very mild complications in most cases

      The Flu vaccine is easily the least effective among the vaccines recommended for routine use in the general population. All the rest also are very common, and have mild (or no) complications in most cases, but are more effective than the flu vaccine.

  4. I’m not an advocate for this type of birth by any means, but it is hard to assign blame when you don’t know exactly the cause of death (or I missed it here). There are enough malpractices cases out there I can understand why people don’t trust doctors. I saw a doctor a few months ago. Afterwards, I was talking to a lady a church who asked me about it. Somehow his name came up and she said that is the doctor that said her husband had diabetes. It turns out he had lymthnode cancer. He died rather quickly. If they had caught it sooner, they might have been able to do something about it or maybe it would have had the same outcome. However, you can bet I dropped that doctor.

    Perhaps that is why people like nurses better. Still I think I would trust doctors more than I would trust these types of groups. They offer something doctors tend to be lacking: bedside manner. They say the things you want to hear. They say things that make you feel special, wanted, and needed. Like a cult, they can be very attractive. But I bet they don’t need to be. I was doing some research for a sermon and it said something like 60% of people will trust medical advice from a friend before they trust a doctor. Why not? I take home improvement advice from a mechanic and an insurance salesman. They may not do home improvement professionally, but they know what to do.Poor analogy aside, my point being, medical care is personal and medical professionals tend to lack it. They tend to be cold and distant. So I don’t know if it is fare to blame schools here (though maybe they share some responsibility) but maybe the way we handle social contracts.

    Finally, I want to point out something I learned a few years ago with my grandparents. Just because you’re doing something stupid does not mean you’re at fault (they ran a stop sign and got hit by a drunk driver. It was there fault the driver hit them).

    I’m going to guess that Judith not taking the doctor’s advice led the the baby’s demise, but based on the evidence, I don’t know that for sure.

  5. Judith’s issue is the same problem that seems to affect a lot of women, which is a bias towards this vague marketing term called “natural.”

    It’s what powers Marianne Williamson’s campaign, the huckster self-help book “The Secret,” and countless other woo-woo nonsense that is rampant in our society.

    It’s also decidedly anti-science, and therefore at best misleading and at worst deadly.

  6. Quite frankly, modern medicine has a role in this. There are a lot of women who get C sections now that may not necessarily need them. Hospitals in general are crappy places to be with professionals who charge $10 for a Tylenol. I don’t blame a woman for not wanting to be in such an institution if it can be helped. And from many people I know as well as patient accounts, on everything from sponges being left in surgery patients bodies to doctors who can’t be bothered to see if a patient is able to have certain medications or procedures without causing more harm, many have suffered needlessly at the hands of these professionals.

    This doesn’t mean throwing the proverbial baby out with the at home birth bathwater – doctors and midwives have their place. Anyone not willing to at least consult with such professionals is a fool. That being said, patients should not just kowtow to the nuclear style approach often taken to deal with medical issues.

    At one point I was on chemotherapy for an autoimmune condition. Losing hair and being even more weak than when I got sick wasn’t helpful. Another injection medication had adjuncts that triggered another medical issue though it was clearly noted in my chart. Another anecdote is my sister, who very clearly noted, is allergic to latex, yet it was used in her surgery, leaving her in the hospital (and stuck paying) an extra week, and permanently scarred for their egregious mistake. Just about everyone knows someone who experienced as much pain and illness from modern medicine as they have received help.

    Again I’m not saying they don’t help, but it can be prudent to weigh multiple modalities and explore alternatives too.

    Today I primarily use herbs, nutrition, and exercise to deal with the conditions that I was originally on 10 medications (all with yucky side effects) for and have a much better life because if it. I suppose I have a bias for herbal medicine, but it comes from personal experience that has brought not only a fuller life but hope for a productive future.

    Modern medicine as it is, mostly offers being cut into, potential side effects like cancer, seizures, or headaches, and…constipation for ever ever. Today this isn’t my life. Health is. So much so I am living my purpose. Not stuck hurting, still sick and without my lovely suburban mom meets David Lee Roth hairdo. I like my big hair damnit!

    This lady made some terrible choices and her social media “community” didn’t make her any smarter. Industrialized medicine with its Big Pharma lasso needs to be held accountable too. Too many patients (consumers) have lost their lives and livelihoods from over aggressive and over zealous doctors and hospitals.

  7. In this specific instance…Judith.

    She is, presumably, a full-grown woman who has had the benefit of a modern education (such as it is) so cannot have been entirely ignorant. She put her own life and her baby’s life on the line so she could indulge a pet theory. I’m sorry she had to learn the lesson the hard way.

  8. All of the above are responsible. However, Judith is the one with the legal power to make these decisions. She, not the doctors, not the education system, not the ‘Free Birth Society’, and not even her husband (reproductive rights and all) have the power to make this decision. So, the decision is hers and she made it. Now, how is society going to dissuade others from falling into this trap? Not by making Judith a ‘victim’ we aren’t. If we make her a victim, then the next person will feel no responsibility for doing the same thing. We gave Judith all the power and Judith misused it. If we are going to say that this is wrong, Judith needs to be punished for this decision that was hers alone to make. If Judith is not to be punished, then that says that this is behavior is acceptable. I’m sure most pro-choice people are OK with this, she killed her ‘clump of cells’, she will be more careful next time (her body, her choice). However, since they made a story about this, It seems some people don’t think this is an acceptable event. I know it sounds harsh to punish Judith, but freedom is not free. It comes with the cost of accountability.

  9. Of the choices provided a number were equitably applicable. Mother, father, the cult, using the internet as a source of knowledge without wisdom. This happens all too often. The Responsibility lies with all participants in this insanity.

  10. Because you can’t choose more than one option, and “all of the above” is not an option, I find it really interesting that some people voted that the husband was *most* at fault. I’d love for someone who voted that way to explain their thought process.

    All that said… This is one of those instances where my Canadianism colors my conservatism. It costs, on average, without complications, $11,000 to have a baby in America. Frankly, that’s insane. This is one of those American exceptionalisms that you ought not be proud of. For that unusually bloated price tag, Americans have the privilege of having the 32nd best infant mortality rate in the world.

    I can’t tell for certain if cost was a material consideration in *this* instance, but I bet you a million dollars and Bernie’s lake camp that it is in some.

    • To me as someone who more often than not identifies as “conservative”, but will freely admit to having a bit of an “a la carte” relationship with politics…. Medical is rapidly becoming the next winning issue.

      Sometimes it’s guns, drugs, immigration, identity, and war. At this time, I think the next big one is Medical. I don’t think our conservative side can win a medical fight based on “hey, it’s not that bad.”

      I think Sanders can win a “Medicare 4 All” fight if played correctly, but his detriment is his stated generosity. Medicare coverage for those who don’t pay medicare taxes. Medicare coverage that’s 100% with no deductibles or incremental costs. In my opinion, you have to exclude foreign nationals unless they qualify through proven medicare tax payment history; and you have to have incremental & shared costs (even as a meaningless token) in order to push back against the natural tendency to be a hypochondriac.

      Perhaps he’s campaigning properly, to rally the most support and he’ll negotiate down, later. That’s a legitimate tactic.

      But the point of my response is to say, I find myself more and more moved to take a match to our current private insurance system.

      • I think Sanders’ Class-Warfare-Commie routine is going to be popular with some, and very off-putting for others. I actually thought Warren had the most digestible of the available plans, although mine would still be different.

        The problem is that the ACA tried to cover too much and failed to properly leverage its own buying power, even in Canada, we still have deductibles and co-pays, and the government never deigned to attempt to pay for my condoms.

        I’ve always said that there were two positions that made sense, and they both had pros and cons;

        A public option is good at controlling costs, you leverage a whole lot of economies of scale, and so you can do more with less. This is part of the reason drug costs in Canada are basically half of what they are in America (The other part being that America prides itself on the martyrdom status it gets by subsidizing drug R&D for the entire world). The problem is that doctors are fairly mobile people, and they can earn more in private-care districts, so it’s hard to attract good help, and wait times, especially on things like hip and knee replacements tend to be longer (although not nearly to the degree Republican propaganda says). You also have a mismatch; people that do not pay into the system benefit from the existence of the system. that means taxpayers subsidize healthcare… Kind of like they currently subsidize food, housing, education, infrastructure, policing, the standing army….. Huh.

        A private system is more and less fair: It’s more fair in that no one who doesn’t pay into the system benefits from it, but fewer people are covered. What a private system should be good at is providing excellent service quickly. It’s more expensive by design, but not by as much as you might think. Being a doctor will always bee a top-tier earning job, and in order to get paid, they have to set rates that people can afford, there is a built-in interest to keeping prices mostly affordable, and the market will adjust. A problem with this system is that some people are not covered, but need emergency care. Hospitals don’t turn emergencies away, but those people are still billed. Nothing says “I have a healthy system” like putting homeless people into debtors prison for non-payment of medical bills.

        What I think is particularly bad about the American version is that because a fairly sizable majority of Americans have insurance, and because the insurers have near-monopolies over certain Geographic areas, there’s no incentive for them to actually curb costs; In fact, there is the inverse; Insurers do not act in the best interest of the insured, they act in their own. And if an insurer can make more marginal profit dollars by taking the same marginal percentage out of pools that are larger, they will increase the pools by allowing medical providers to increase their prices and socialize the cost of those cost increases into the insurance pools, you’re going to see medical costs increase. Which is how you get average drug, device, and procedure costs 200-300% higher than smaller markets (like Canada) despite not having materially better or faster care.

  11. The medical community who acts like they have the definitive answers helps drive the lunacy.

    Are eggs good or bad for you? Depends on when you asked a medical professional.

    Is coffee good or bad? See above

    Is ham, or avocados, or tobacco, or any number of such items good or bad?

    Science always has an answer, and never own up to being wrong.

  12. First off, I’m grateful for all the nuanced and well-considered opinions here. I can always count on getting reasonably well-balanced information about human society from people’s experiences here, and the encouragement that reasonable people are not alone–just not yet organized.

    The poll didn’t let me vote multiple times, but I’m tempted to select “all of the above,” in the sense that “responsible” can mean “contributing to the problem and needing to change.” For “primarily responsible,” I’m obligated to go with “Judith,” since she is presumed to have ultimate decision-making authority in this case.

    That survey question by the National Partnership for Women & Families spins so hypnotically, I’d like to take it off its axle.

    “Giving birth is a natural process that should not be interfered with unless absolutely medically necessary.” Who [i]wouldn’t[/i] agree to that?

    1. Yes, giving birth is [i]objectively and literally[/i] a natural process, in that humans didn’t deliberately design it. (Although I wouldn’t put it past them to have done so under a tight budget of time and money. I’ve supported software rollouts that were just as awkward and painful.)

    However, stating something to be “a natural process” in so many words implies on an emotional level that it is by default perfectly healthy and should remain purely natural, which is an appeal to nature fallacy. “Cancer is a natural process.” “Epidemics are a natural process.” “Hurricanes are a natural process.” There are plenty of natural things that I am very grateful civilization has altered or wants to alter using technology.

    2. “interfered with” is a very negative way of referring to an outside party changing the outcome of an event. It implicitly assumes the outside party is unwelcome. By definition, people don’t want “interference,” but they may want [i]help[/i]. A scene from Firefly comes to mind:
    Zoe: “This is something the captain needs to do himself.”
    Captain Mal (fighting for his life): “NO, HE DOESN’T!”
    Zoe: “Oh.” (starts shooting)

    3. “unless absolutely medically necessary” Oh, boy. First off, most people don’t want medical procedures that aren’t medically necessary. Medical procedures are often painful and expensive. “Don’t have a medical procedure that isn’t medically necessary,” is, for most people and most medical procedures, a trivially obvious statement.

    But “absolutely” medically necessary? That sets a high bar indeed. By the time we know whether a treatment is “absolutely” medically necessary, a good portion of the time it’s already too late to do it.

    On a separate note, I understand that a group trying protect people from being peer-pressured into taking the mainstream option might make rules preventing the mainstream option from being brought up. Dogma raises warning flags for me, but as I write this I realize that the solution isn’t to ban groups from having dogma (which is itself dogma) but to make sure people don’t spend all their time in dogmatic groups as they make a decision. At some point they need to work in a space where they’re allowed to weigh all the options against all the evidence and against their own priorities.

    That’s why JutGory mentioned people don’t like being told what to do. Many people can recognize dogma when it’s being foisted upon them regardless if the dogma happens to align with the preponderance of the evidence (as long as they don’t already have an emotional connection to it). I find that the most effective method of getting someone to make a healthy decision is to outline the consequences–good and bad, as perceived by them–of each option. Of course, that requires me to have a decent understanding of the matter at hand, and of the person making the decision. If I don’t have those understandings already, my first step is to get them, or else any “help” I offer is nothing more than my own empirical and normative biases.

  13. I’d like to offer my 2 cents as a pregnant woman who is currently planning a “freebirth” (but is open, of course, to taking whatever unpredictable path unfolds in labor).

    Judith is responsible for her body and her baby. This is one of the core beliefs, in my opinion, of anyone who is willingly choosing to go this route in pregnancy and childbirth. The freebirth movement was born out of women who wanted to take more responsibility for their pregnancies/births, rather than feeling like another number on an OB conveyor belt. Typically, it is women who want to lead the decision making process when it comes to what is done or not done to their bodies (which includes their babies, obviously).

    There are so many problems in our current obstetric system, it is one of the least evidence-based areas of medicine, period. There are been plenty of research to show that new technological advances have NOT improved average outcomes in the past 30-40 years, such as constant fetal monitoring, multiple ultrasounds, C-sections, inductions, etc. That being said, if you’re going to make radical choices that go against common sense consensus and what history has shown to be true about pregnancy (ie: a pregnancy lasting 44 weeks + has a very high risk of stillbirth), you must also be willing to suffer the consequences of those choices. Judith will live with the consequences of her choices for the rest of her life, it is heartbreaking. No one will suffer more than her, and my heart goes out to her. There is no worse pain than losing a child.

    I still believe that women should always be the final decision makers over their bodies, even if those decisions are shortsighted or ill-informed.

    If anyone is interested, the reason I am planning a birth without medical professionals present (except that I will have a friend present who received midwifery training but never ended up becoming licensed) largely has to do with my first birthing experience in the hospital, and the protocols in place that are presented without care for a woman’s bodily autonomy. I was given ZERO choices about how my care proceeded at 40 weeks, was told that I HAD to be induced, after having 2 HBP readings over the course of 24 hours. I had zero symptoms of preeclampsia, was incredibly healthy, and felt great. I’ve since consulted with several OBs who agree that mine was an unnecessary induction. Nevertheless, the OB that was on staff that morning was a cautious one, proving that sometimes all it comes down to is a provider’s personality, and I was shuffled into the standardized induction protocol. This turned what I believed would be a powerful, momentous, incredible experience in my life (initiation into motherhood) into one of extreme pain (pitocin contractions don’t give you breaks!) and then numbness (epidural to numb the pain), leaving me feeling helpless and completely dismissed by staff. I’m one of the “lucky” ones who goes through this process and doesn’t end up with a C-section (you’ve got about a 50/50 chance after being induced with pit). After my son was born, of course, he was taken away for hours at a time for various tests, and I was also told I could not hold my baby while I slept, who was screaming for me the entire time – the nurses ignored/swaddled him, and I was given no breastfeeding support or consolation about what to do with a baby who would not stop crying. I was completely numb, could barely pee or talk (I’d been up for 35+ hours), and felt ZERO maternal instincts (how could I, without any chance to hold/bond with my baby for longer than 30 minutes?). This affected my relationship with my child for at least the first year of his life. I found myself to be an extremely anxious/depressed first time mom. I don’t doubt that the unfolding of the birth process played a role in these feelings. I had no confidence in myself/my choices, because I literally hadn’t made any of my own decisions about my body/baby up to that point.

    Some might say it’s extreme to go from that to no medical professionals present at all. I want to stress that MOST women (I hope! myself included), in the case of obvious issues (cord prolapse, placenta previa bleeding at end of pregnancy, footling breech/ twin birth) would seek medical help. Thank SCIENCE for the fact that we have medical intervention when necessary! The fact remains, however, that for low-risk healthy women, the vast majority of pregnancies and birth will go on without issue, and go much smoother when the birthing mother feels safe (wherever that is, hospital, birth center, home) and her hormones/mammalian instincts are allowed to take over. It is worth noting that labor often “stalls” (likely an instinctual response to feeling watched/intervened with) in hospitals, leading to unnecessary C sections. Additionally, women who choose this path MUST, in my opinion, be incredibly informed and resourceful. I have a Plan A, B, and C, because at the end of the day, my health and that of my baby’s (one in the same, at this point) is of UTMOST importance to me. There are so many prenatal tests/options and medical professionals to consult with who are available for women who want to become informed and set themselves up for the best possible outcome. Furthermore, the hospital is ALWAYS there for true emergences, which obviously do come up in birth. Just like the hospital is always there for emergencies in life.

    The media loves to sensationalize extremely rare cases where women ignore red flags in favor of advice from an online Facebook group, or are ill informed about the real risks that can go on during pregnancy/birth. Why anyone would take advice from an online forum rather than doing actual research baffles me.
    That being said, what the media doesn’t and won’t report on is the tens of thousands of women who have “freebirthed” (aka, given birth like humans have done for all of time) successfully, and will continue to do so around the world, everyday.
    To me, choosing to free birth IS choosing to take responsibility for all decision making in the pregnancy and birth process, and consequently, the outcomes of those decisions. It does NOT mean forgoing or ignoring sound medical advice that is based on evidence (such as risk of stillbirth after 42 weeks). It means integrating medical advice, intuition, and common sense.

    I guess that was more like 200 cents, but I wanted to speak out for those of us who some of you may see as insane/crazy. I should add that I have a master’s degree, and am very capable of doing scientific research on my own, weighing the risks/benefits of every decision I make, and taking full responsibility for those decisions. No one cares more about the wellbeing of myself and my baby more than I do.

  14. I’d like to add another perspective- this was nobody’s fault. Nobody killed this baby. “Judith” made an informed decision which was what she believed to be the best thing for herself and her child (if you believe any mother, barring total psychopaths which are rare but do exist, would work against the best interest of her child you clearly don’t know many mothers). Parents are the highest authority over their own children. Most of the time, long pregnancies are not dangerous and there were no warning signs till the meconium that there was anything wrong; and at that first sign, she sought medical attention and her child was already dead. Stillbirths happen. They happen at home, in the hospital, anywhere there is birth. We cannot blame mothers for giving birth to dead babies. We cannot blame those supporting and caring for the mother for the death of her baby. If one were to abort the baby, or physically assault the mother in such a way as would harm her baby, or refuse to give her life-saving medical care in the event of an emergency, then that person has killed the baby. Stillbirth is a tragedy and is nobody’s fault.

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