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Midwifery
Volume 101, 2021, 103042

Undisturbed Physiological Birth: Insights from Women Who Freebirth in the United Kingdom

Gemma McKenzie, Elsa Montgomery

King's College London, Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Palliative Care, James Clerk Maxwell Building, 57 Waterloo Road, London, SE1 8WA, UK.

Abstract

Objective

To understand women's experiences of undisturbed physiological birth by exploring the narratives of women who have freebirthed their babies in the United Kingdom (intentionally giving birth without midwives or doctors present).

Design

Unstructured narrative face-to-face interviews were carried out and data were analysed using the Voice Centred Relational Method (VCRM).

Participants

Sixteen women who had freebirthed their babies.

Findings

Women discussed a range of phenomena including birth positions, the fetus ejection reflex, pain, altered states of consciousness, physiological third stages and postnatal experiences that were physically and emotionally positive.

Key conclusions

There is a paucity of literature on physiological birth and limited opportunity for practitioners to witness it. Further research is required on phenomena related to physiological birth so as to better understand how to promote it within the maternity setting and when intervention is justified.

Implications for practice

Standard maternity settings and practice may not be conducive to or reflective of physiological birth. Better understanding of physiological birth is required so that pregnant women and people can be appropriately supported during labour and birth.

Keywords: Freebirth, Physiological birth, fetus ejection reflex, narrative, qualitative research.

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