Freebirth has been in the news lately, except that it has erroneously been confused with home birth. Freebirth is a birth at home without the presence of a midwife. Many women who have their babies at home have the professional care of a midwife. They may choose to have all the usual ultrasounds, tests and procedures that women going through the hospital system, and they are cared for one-on-one by that same midwife throughout their birth and postnatally. It's called continuity of care, and it's known to benefit women and babies. Midwife-attended homebirth for low-risk and healthy women has been shown in many studies to be safe. Not only that, it results in far fewer interventions compared with hospital birth, and women report a higher level of satisfaction with home birth services.
The same cannot be said for freebirth. In fact, there are no studies that have ever found freebirth to be safe. This is because it is almost impossible to get studies. Most of the information about freebirth is anecdotal. At best, research on freebirth could only be retrospective because it is unethical to randomise women to professional midwifery care vs no professional care.
The recent cases reported in the media relate to freebirth. Yes, freebirth is a type of home birth, but the lack of professional presence is an important factor. Women of course can make their own decisions about where and with whom they give birth, however it cannot be said that the decision to freebirth is informed on a risk-reward basis because there is simply no good quality research showing it to be safe.
Midwifery care at your birth means there's someone present who can administer an injection of Syntocinon if you're bleeding after the birth. A midwife can monitor your baby and let you know if your baby is distressed. A midwife is educated in resuscitation of your baby, and she can piece together different information about your situation so that if things are not going well, you can transfer safely. None of this is possible with a freebirth.
A homebirth midwife brings with her oxygen and suction, cord clamps or ties, equipment and sutures for stitches (along with local anaesthetic), needes and syringes in case you need an injection of Syntocinon, a doppler for monitoring your baby, BP equipment and other materials to assist with the birth - a torch, under pads, mirror etc.
Homebirth is not a common option in this country, however it remains a safe and responsible decision for low risk, healthy women.
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