WPCTS Freebirth Ethos
At WPCTS, we advocate for the principle of informed choice in childbirth, recognising freebirth, or unassisted birth, as a legitimate option for expectant mothers. Freebirth is the act of giving birth without the presence or assistance of medical professionals such as midwives or doctors. It’s a deeply personal decision, legally permissible, and one that a woman has the right to make without coercion, bullying, or manipulation from anyone.
Our role is not to encourage or discourage freebirth but to support and empower women in whatever birthing decision they feel safest with. We believe that empowerment comes from being fully informed, connected to your divine wisdom and understanding one’s rights. To facilitate this, we provide resources and information, including guidance from reputable organisations like The Royal College Of Midwives and Birthrights, to ensure women understand how the NHS approaches freebirth and their rights in this regard.
Understanding Freebirth/Unassisted Birth
Freebirth, also known as unassisted birth, refers to the process of giving birth without medical assistance. This choice is often made by women who wish to experience childbirth in its most natural form, within the comfort of their chosen environment, and without medical intervention. The decision to freebirth is rooted in the belief in the body’s natural ability to give birth and the desire for a deeply personal and autonomous birthing experience.
In the UK, while freebirth is legal, only a qualified midwife or doctor can legally ‘attend’ a birth to provide clinical care. For birth workers like doulas or birth keepers, their presence at a freebirth is legal, but they cannot perform clinical tasks or interventions. Their role is solely to provide emotional, informational, and practical support.
For former midwives acting as birth keepers, it’s crucial to note that without current registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council, they cannot legally practise as midwives or provide any form of clinical care. Their role, like that of a doula, would be limited to non-clinical support.
At WPCTS, we are committed to respecting and supporting the choices of expectant mothers, advocating for a safe, respectful, and empowering birthing experience, whatever form it may take.
Know your rights
Below is The Royal College Of Midwives briefing sheet so you know how the NHS approaches freebirth. This also states no woman should be referred to social services just on the grounds of freebirthing
For birth workers
Only a qualified midwife or doctor can “attend” a birth and provide clinical care in the UK. There exists a singular level of engagement as a midwife during the process of childbirth. This role is safeguarded by Article 45 of the Nursing and Midwifery Order 2001. Consequently, it is considered an infringement for anyone other than a duly registered midwife or a registered medical practitioner to be present with a woman during childbirth. Exceptions to this rule are made only for emergency situations or when it is an element of sanctioned training within those professional domains. Please see: (NMC 2017, updated 2021).
Definition of “attending” a birth
In the Nursing and Midwifery Council (Midwives) Rules Order of Council 2012 (SI 2012 No. 3025), the following definitions are listed:
‘Attendance upon’ – providing care or advice to a woman or care to a baby whether or not the midwife providing the care or advice is physically present; ‘baby’ includes an unborn
baby during the antenatal and intranatal periods; ‘childbirth’ includes the antenatal, intranatal and postnatal periods.
Can a doula/birth keeper be present at a freebirth?
Yes, doulas can be present at medically unassisted births in the UK. A medically unassisted birth, also known as a “freebirth” or “unassisted home birth,” refers to a birth that takes place without the presence or assistance of medical professionals such as midwives or doctors.
Doulas, as non-clinical birth support professionals, can provide emotional, informational, and practical support to individuals who choose to have an unassisted birth. Doulas can help create a comfortable and supportive environment, offer relaxation techniques, provide encouragement, and assist with non-medical aspects of the birthing process.
It’s important to note that while doulas can provide valuable emotional support and comfort during unassisted births, they are not qualified to provide medical care, interventions, or assessments. Doulas should not engage in clinical tasks such as monitoring vital signs, conducting medical assessments, or performing medical procedures. If any medical complications arise during an unassisted birth, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical assistance from qualified healthcare professionals.
In the UK, individuals have the right to make informed choices about their birthing experience, including the option to have an unassisted birth with the support of a doula.
I want to engage a former midwife as a birth keeper, can she legally attend?
If a former midwife is no longer governed by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), they do not have the legal authority to practise as a midwife or provide clinical care, even if they were previously registered as a midwife. Once a midwife’s registration with the NMC has lapsed or if they are no longer actively practising within the scope of midwifery, they should not perform clinical tasks or interventions associated with midwifery. This includes attending births and providing medical care