Free birth

Thursday March 27, 2008

Many women are reverting back to nature when it comes to giving birth.

The trend follows decisions by State and Territory governments to close smaller maternity units in an attempt to centralise birth in large hospitals.

Dr Ric Gordon joins the show to explain how the process works and why many women may not be aware of the hidden dangers.

Unassisted childbirth, also know as free-birth or unhindered birth occurs without the assistance of a medical or professional birth attendant or drugs.

"The reasons for choosing to give birth unassisted range greatly from mother to mother but a few key factors are common to most," he explains.

"There is the conviction that birth is a normal function of the female body and therefore not a medical emergency," he says. "This argument is correct that women are able to conceive and carry a child, giving correct reason to believe they can give birth naturally."

Many also believe that most interventions commonly used by the medical profession during birth cause more harm than good in a normal birth, he says.

"There are however, risks involved with giving birth naturally," he says. "It means a woman increases the natural risks of birth, these natural risks are what hospitals and assisted births try to avoid. Hospitals and maternity wards are there so the level of natural risk can be minimised and if it does occur women and their babies can be helped during the birth process."

"When choosing to have an unassisted birth, parents must look at the risks," he warns.

"If there is history of complications with previous births then you may have a higher risk of something going wrong," says Dr Gordon.

"It is extremely important to make sure that you have another person with you as back up should something go wrong," he warns. "It is also wise to have contacts for people handy should you need help."

Dr Gordon suggests that being a close distance to a doctor or hospital is a good idea.

"Parents who choose this style should try and educate them selves as much as they can on what could happen during the birth," he suggests.

"There is also the issue of obtaining a birth certificate for a child born at home unassisted," he says. "Parents will need to register the birth within 60 days of the child being born. If you do not, there will be fees for late registration, and you could get fined."

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