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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Article number103042
Early online date21 May 2021
Accepted/In press16 May 2021
E-pub ahead of print21 May 2021
PublishedOct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: The authors would like to thank the women who shared their freebirthing stories, AIMS for supporting the project and the Economic and Social Research Council for funding it. We would also like to thank Teresa Arias for providing helpful comments on earlier drafts of the manuscript. Funding Information: Interviewees were aware that the project was supported by the national charity AIMS (Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services). Participants were also informed that the first author is not a health care professional and is a volunteer at the organisation. This role reflects her academic background in law, human rights and ethics. It includes producing a range of written literature for the charity in addition to supporting women via the AIMS helpline to navigate the maternity system. The second author is a midwifery academic who used the Voice Centred Relational Method for her own PhD study. Her original midwifery education and clinical practice were mostly based in a Consultant Obstetric Unit in which the biomedical model was the norm. Funding Information: This research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council grant number: ES/P000703/1. Publisher Copyright: © 2021 Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


King's Authors


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).

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

Sixteen women who had freebirthed their babies.

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.

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