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Expectant mothers turn to freebirthing after home births cancelled

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When Victoria Gianopoulos-Johnson got a call from her midwife to say her home birth would be cancelled, panic took hold. She says she “lost it” for two days, crying constantly, gripped by uncertainty and then anger. Now she has reached the decision to have a free birth, also known as unassisted childbirth.

Maternity rights groups say there has been a rise in the number of women seeking advice about freebirthing owing to pressures on hospitals and new restrictions around birth partners.

More than a fifth of birthing centres and more than a third of homebirth services have closed due to a shortage of midwives and concerns about ambulance response times.

Alison Edwards, of Doula UK, whose 700 members advocate for expectant mothers, says she has seen a threefold increase in calls about freebirthing in the last fortnight.

“Initially women were concerned about staff shortages,” says Edwards. “Now they don’t want to go to hospital at all, it’s about infection. It is inevitable that some who should not be freebirthing because they are in a high-risk category will give birth at home because they fear the alternative – infection from [coronavirus] or spending time in hospital without their partner’s support.”

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Source: Guardian, 5 April 2020

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