Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Laura Shanley

The ABC News website is currently carrying a story about unassisted childbirth (UC). The story is brief and contains some inaccuracies and omissions, but it does convey the basic points about UC. As with any story about UC, it mentions Laura Shanley:
Supporters of home birth say the experience of bearing a child is enhanced when kept intensely personal and completely natural.

"I felt like I'd touched the eternal, when you look back at your baby and your hands are the first to touch her," Shanley said. "I mean, this experience will carry me through the rest of my life."
I left a comment:
Shanley, the woman you profile, gave birth to 5 children, not four. One was born unassisted prematurely and died for lack of medical attention. Unassisted childbirth (UC) is an irresponsible stunt, undertaken for no better reason that bragging rights. Indeed, as a cultural construct, UC shares many similarities with "extreme" sports. Advocates emphasize the fact that it is transgressive, is "authentic", values process over outcome, creates a sense of belonging, and produces feelings of empowerment.

Unassisted childbirth has no benefit to the baby and poses very serious risks to both the baby and the mother. It involves no particular skill, a belief that no expertise in childbirth is needed, has a prime objective of testing the capacity to endure pain, and risks death as the likely outcome of a mistake. In short, it is nothing more than a stunt.
Shanley has posted her own comment:
Amy Tuteur - those of us in the homebirth movement are used to your inaccurate and fear-based comments about homebirth. But your statement about my baby is an outright lie. Please provide documentation that my baby died due to a lack of medical care. This is pure speculation on your part, as a coroner stated that my baby died of a congenital heart defect, and would have died regardless of where he had been born..
My response:
You yourself have written that you knowingly gave birth to a premature baby at home, never called for medical assistance and watched him die. I'm not aware of any cardiac defects that are completely unamenable to treatment of any kind. Prenatal care could have easily revealed the cardiac defect, and appropriate resuscitation and a surgical team available for repair could have been arranged in advance. People need to know that unassisted childbirth kills babies.

That's not restricted to your case alone. On the forum run by Mothering Magazine, the UC death rate, according to proud declaration of their members is 8/1000. They don't seem to realize that that rate is 20 times higher than the neonatal death rate for low risk women in the hospital!

UC is an irresponsible stunt that kills babies. Some people like to pretend otherwise, but women deserve to know the truth.

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