A woman who was ambivalent about becoming a mum says shunning a conventional pregnancy and choosing to give birth alone, at home, without any medical intervention, helped her see how powerful and important motherhood is.
Lacey Haynes, 34, says having a free birth, one that was free from check-ups, midwives and medicine, allowed her to become a better mother.
The pregnancy and sexuality coach said that before she had children, she didnt really value a womans ability to do it.
I realised when I was exploring the idea of becoming a mother that I didnt value motherhood, she told Metro.co.uk.
I actually thought it was a bit of a cop-out or something Id do before I got back to “real life”.
I didnt value motherhood because I didnt value what it was to be a woman; to have a womans body, to have a menstrual cycle, to be the carrier of human life.
Its so monumental and amazing and yet I thought it was a crap deal to be the one responsible for having kids.
When she did fall pregnant, she made it through just one check-up before realising the medical route wasnt for her.
Documenting her journey on her Instagram account @verylacey also opened her eyes to the fact that a lot of other women were going through a similar process.
When I became pregnant, I started to see how the technocratic approach to pregnancy and birth didnt align with the way I lived, she said.
The medical model wants women to value protocol, scans and external opinions more than valuing their own innate understanding of their bodies.
At every turn I was being asked to sign my power over to someone else – I wasnt having it.
A free birth is one without medical assistance and can differ from person to person but may involve choosing not to have scans or see any doctors in the lead up to the birth.
It then involves giving birth at home without the assistance of a midwife.
Earlier this year, medical associations said data on how many women choose to give birth without medical assistance should be collected.
The NHS in London records how many women choose free birth via a form parents can complete but Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish governments do not record free births.
NHS England said up to 200 women in London give birth without a GP or midwife every year.
Freedom of information requests to Wales health boards revealed at least 463 women in Wales gave birth without a medic present over the past five years, but its not clear how many of those made a decision to reject medical help.
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) in February voiced concerns about free birthing, saying it would strongly discourage it due to the potential risks for both mother and baby.
Mary Ross-Davie, Director for Scotland at the Royal College of Midwives, said that both expectant mothers and the medical profession would benefit from having a better understanding of the numbers of women opting for a free birth.
Our concern is “what is driving women to give birth without professional care?”, she told Metro.co.uk.
We need to know more about why women are choosing free birth so that we can try to create services that will support them to give birth in the way they want, but with the back-up of health professionals.
When women make this decision midwives will do all they can to understand the womans choice.
Ideally, the midwife will be able to talk through this choice with the woman and discuss what can be done to make it ok for her to have a health professional present and supporting her in a way that she is comfortable with.
Most births will go fine without any problems for the mother and her baby, Mary added.
But, there is the potential for things to go wrong, and this can sometimes happen very quickly, such as a haemorrhage after the birth.
This is why we would not advise women to give birth without a qualified health professional supporting her.
It should always be a womans choice about how she gives birth and we do advocate supporting women – if they are engaging with the health services in pregnancy – whatever choices they make.
Lacey says her choice to go it alone was the result of a lot of research and questioning medical professionals.
Its important to assert right now that Im not against the medical system, she said.
If I ever felt I needed help or my baby needed help we would have sought the help required.
What I am against is blindly going along with the status quo, not asking questions and feeling disempowered.
I had an unassisted pregnancy and birth, which means I had very few check-ups and my husband and I birthed our baby at home alone.
We did a lot of research, we asked a lot of questions and we did a lot of work on ourselves and with one another.
Lacey herself admits that she knows this scares the shit out of people and she is clear that she does not encourage women to choose any particular type of pregnancy or birth.
That would be wildly irresponsible, she said.
I encourage instead that this is a journey into the self. I encourage critical thinking and taking responsibility for ourselves, whatever shape that takes in each persons unique life.
Her own pregnancy, she says was never uninformed.
In fact, I knew all the risks, all the potentials and still opted to have no scans and birth freely at home, she said.
Having a free birth – where Lacey and her husband delivered their daughter together and cut the cord themselves, with no midwife or medicine at hand – was transformative Lacey said.
She added: The impact of positive birth is not to be taken lightly. My whole life has been elevated by this experience.