Gemma McKenzie

Thesis title:

Freebirthing in the UK: A Narrative Study


This project aims to understand the experiences of people who freebirth their babies in the UK. Freebirth occurs when someone intentionally gives birth without health care professionals present in societies where maternity services are available to assist them. People who freebirth will have all, some or no antenatal care.Women who make this birthing decision are frequently stigmatised, yet existing research on the phenomenon suggests that women’s motivations are often complex. The response women receive from midwives and doctors when they voice their intentions to freebirth are often mixed and range from compassionate support to social services and police involvement.Using in depth narrative interviews, the study explores four stages of the freebirth journey: relevant pre-pregnancy experiences (e.g. previous births), the freebirth pregnancy, the freebirth, and the post-natal experience. Data will be analysed using the Voice Centred Relational Method and explored within feminist and Foucauldian frameworks.This project has benefited greatly from public and patient involvement. Most notably this has included input from the human rights charity AIMS (Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services) which supports women to navigate the maternity system.

First supervisor:

Glenn Robert


1 – Health Practices, Innovation & Implementation