Comment Of The Day: “Who Killed ‘Judith’s’ Baby?”


This is “extreme free-birthing“…doing it all alone. Not recommended.

I love it when a new commenter makes an entrance with a Comment of the Day, and that’s what Megan did in response to last week’s post about the credulous mother-to-be who placed inordinate trust in the opinions of amateurs and well-meaning activists with tragic results.

Here’s the way the poll on that story has turned out; polling closes in a week, so if you haven’t voted, time is running out:

Frequently first time visitors with especially impressive debut comments are only interested in a single issue, and go recede into the mists of anonymity from which they came, never to be heard from again. I hope that isn’t the case with Megan.

Here is her Comment of the Day on the post, “Who Killed Judith’s Baby?”

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 emergencies, 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.


3 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Who Killed ‘Judith’s’ Baby?”

  1. Thank you, I completely agree. My wife and I had a similar experience and it is why we chose home births for the rest of our children — all born healthy and without complications.

  2. I still don’t think it is worth the risk. If something goes wrong, every second counts and it could be the difference between life and death. I would much rather be at a hospital under the supervision of a team of doctors literally seconds away.

  3. As a man, let me comment on child birth…

    Ok, poor attempt at humor….

    That said, what happened to Megan in the hospital is something a lot of us do, which is to defer “too much” to the “medical professionals” .

    Yes, the medical professionals have the knowledge and skill, but in the end we as patients give too much authority to them when sometimes we shouldn’t – and being the patient doesn’t help that dynamic. It really helps to have someone in your corner to push staff to adhere to your needs and wishes.
    I have very annoying, loving parents, and a soon to be ex wife, with the personalities to “take charge” to carry out the activities in my best interest.

    In the end, it is a job, and though a critically important one, they will none the less do things to make their job less hectic – some patients will suffer because of that. It feels like you shouldn’t have to in a hospital, but it’s like any other consumer activity where you do what it takes to get what you pay for, just that the stakes can be so very much higher.

    In Megan’s case it sounds like that’s what happened – the staff did their thing too help their job. Somebody should’ve been outright arguing to get the baby in to bond with the momma asap.

    The birth of both our kids had both of them bonding with and attempting to breast feed as soon as practical, and my wife was just wiped out both times ( one natural, one c-section).

    Ultimately I think a good, qualified medical facility is the right place to give birth, for reasons echoing Bobby Hill – sort of the medical version of the old 2A argument that when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.

    In any case, best wishes to Megan with her new little one, may it be an easy, healthy, happy birth! Brats are THE BEST thing life, and nothing comes close (even if age 15-1/2 to 19 will make you wonder just a little…).

    Congrats Megan!

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