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Sheila Kitzinger has died

(45 Posts)
Northernlurker Sun 12-Apr-15 17:06:47

I read the New Pregnancy and Childbirth aged 23 and expecting my second child. It helped me enormously to assert myself and feel in control of what happened to me. I think my experiences as a fairly young mum have fundamentally contributed to the person I am today and so thank you Sheila. May you rest in peace and your legacy continue to support women on the journey to becoming mothers.

meandjulio Sun 12-Apr-15 17:09:16

Oh I'm sorry to hear that. What a legacy though. Reports are that she died at home - I hope that means that she managed to make some choices about death in the same way that she encouraged choices about birth.

meandjulio Sun 12-Apr-15 22:23:11

Is there another thread on this that I've missed? I'm a bit surprised there aren't more posts?

Selks Sun 12-Apr-15 22:53:40

I'm also really surprised that this thread has so few posts. She was pioneering in making birth more woman-centred, she invented the birth plan and pushed for its use, and did a lot to make home birth more accepted by the medical mainstream.
Any woman who has had a baby and who has exercised choice over her birth owes a debt of gratitude to Sheila.
I can only assume that she is a bit before the time of many people on MN and maybe people are not so aware of the impact of her work.
She meant a lot to me anyway, and reading her books helped me decide to have my two babies as home births, which was the right decision for me.

meandjulio Sun 12-Apr-15 22:55:49

Yes, it does make me feel a bit old that she is obviously a historical figure grin

But I think the fact that what she advocated for is now pretty mainstream in theory (not in practice) almost means that her individual fame was transcended. Maybe that's a compliment in itself. I'm still going to keep bumping though!

Selks Sun 12-Apr-15 22:56:08

Also, she sounds like she was an awesome woman smile

ovumahead Sun 12-Apr-15 22:59:57

What a truly inspiring woman! Amazing legacy to leave behind. What an impact.

VenusRising Sun 12-Apr-15 23:04:02

Yy meandjulio
Reports are that she died at home - I hope that means that she managed to make some choices about death in the same way that she encouraged choices about birth.

What I also liked about her was how very humble she was when she had her fifth child who didn't do what was expected like her previous 4 dream babies had done.
She very humbly backtracked and admitted she did judge women who had, what she now knew were difficult babies, whereas before she thought that all babies were easy and the mothers were doing something wrong.

I had difficult babies and found her writings very judgemental until she had her spirited baby herself. Then she had something to say that I found relavent.

I suppose like all birth/ baby gurus, you need to take with a pinch of salt.

LaVolcan Sun 12-Apr-15 23:05:57

Yes, I am sorry to see her pass away. Reading her books gave me the confidence during my second pregnancy to ask the question why? and led to my getting the appropriate care for me, instead of the default package. A confidence which I hadn't known with my first. We owe her a huge debt of gratitude.

meandjulio Mon 13-Apr-15 00:55:08

From other reports I've now read, her husband said she did indeed choose a home death. I'm really pleased - even though it wouldn't be my choice, just like I woudn't choose a home birth.

VenusRising that's really interesting.

Northernlurker Mon 13-Apr-15 08:12:53

It does seem a bit like we take her for granted now. I am talking about something that's 15 years ago for me so I guess what a long time really grin

LaVolcan Mon 13-Apr-15 10:27:48

I suppose she was more relevant for those giving birth in the 70s - 90s.

However, we could still do with someone with her campaigning zeal now. As I recall, her idea of birth plans was that they were a stop gap until women got continuity of care. Continuity of care is known to improve outcomes, but it still hasn't happened, hence Ed Miliband calling for one midwife per woman in labour - some 20-30 years after Sheila Kitzinger was at her most active.

Artus Mon 13-Apr-15 10:38:44

I stopped taking her seriously when I read she likened giving birth to the petals of a flower opening. Although with five children you would have thought she would have known better.

Weebirdie Mon 13-Apr-15 10:41:23

Im in my late 50's and had my first child when I was 19.

I recognised her name immediately in the title but I think she was very much of a certain generation of women in the real sense.

LaVolcan Mon 13-Apr-15 10:43:41

You say that about petals of flowers opening though Artus, yet that was exactly what my granny said to my mother, as she was helping her give birth. Granny never read Sheila Kitzinger. Mum did not agree either!

Spidermama Mon 13-Apr-15 11:12:42

I'd like to add my surprise to the lack of posts on here. I read Pregnancy and Childbirth, felt empowered and felt my inner feelings were not mad after all, decided to go ahead and have my home birth and ignore the alarms sounded by my GP and midwifery team. Sadly I had to hire independent midwives because I felt I wasn't trusted and was treated as a loon for suggesting a home birth. (This was 16 years ago).

I went on to have four really good, successful home births and I owe my positive experiences, at least in part, to the magnificent Sheila Kitzinger.

DuskyDolphin Mon 13-Apr-15 15:49:33

I read her 'Woman's Experience of Sex' book as a 20 year old.
It was 1983 and in my circle at least, 'nice girls didn't'. Or if they did, they certainly didn't enjoy it. Even then.
I was still living at my parents, and the book had to be well hidden. grin
I was very active sexually and the book gave me confidence in my body, in my sexuality and vastly improved the quality of the sex I was having by giving me the permission I felt I needed to enjoy it as much as I did.
I've never been pregnant, but if I had, I always remembered her name and would certainly have read a couple of her books about pregnancy and birth.

Pleasemrstweedie Mon 13-Apr-15 17:12:58

Without Sheila Kitzinger I don't think I would have had the courage to push for a home birth in 1983.

She did great work and like a PP I hope the fact she died at home meant that she was able to make choices at the other end of the journey as well.

Andrewofgg Mon 13-Apr-15 17:24:27

Very sad. My niece was brought up as per Sheila's orders!

ElviraCondomine Mon 13-Apr-15 18:16:49

I rang the birth crisis line she ran when in a total state over DD2's impending birth (was having flashbacks to a difficult EMCS with DD1 and thought my mind was playing tricks on me.)

I certainly wasn't expecting to hear "Hello, I'm Sheila."

An hour later I was a different woman. It is no understatement to say that she gave me courage.

On DD2's first birthday I rang the line back again, just to leave a message and say thank you. She answered again, and remembered me (we had one very significant place in common, it had transpired) and was just lovely.

It's a terrible loss not only to her family and friends but to mothers and babies (and fathers and siblings) everywhere. She made such a difference.

BishopBrennansArse Mon 13-Apr-15 18:41:45

She was amazing to me when I phoned her birth crisis line following DD's traumatic birth.

I had no idea she was 80 at the time!

Shallishanti Mon 13-Apr-15 21:33:01

she had a very vivid way of explaining things- I often think of her analogy, I think it is in the experience of breastfeeding, where she says, imagine before a man had sex (=PIV sex, natch) for the first time, we said to him, now don't worry if you can't do it, it can be difficult, especially at first, nothing to be shamed of, and just in case it all goes horribly wrong, we'll leave this vibrator here by the bed, that will do the job JUST as well, so you really MUSTN'T WORRY.
As people have said, we all have a lot to thank her for, even if we don't know it.

missymayhemsmum Mon 13-Apr-15 22:12:29

All of us owe Sheila so very much. An amazing woman.

LaVolcan Mon 13-Apr-15 23:01:17

Shallishanti - I don't think I read that at the time, but laughed out loud now reading it. She was absolutely right though.

I remember during my first pregnancy getting utterly fed up with being told about how they would deal with this, that or the other going wrong, and thinking that I wished they would shut up about that and tell me what to do to get things right.

Bogeyface Tue 14-Apr-15 00:29:35

Sheila helped me through a terrible time. I spoke to her on the phone after the birth of my 3rd child, it was very traumatic, she was a surviving twin who almost died at birth. The birth was made worse by medical negligence and the treatment for that. I developed a fear of death around her. I was a basket case, I barely slept for weeks because I was keeping watch.

I found the helpline number and spoke to Sheila who suggested I might have PTSD, she was right. She called me several times and in the end I wrote a piece at her suggestion, she thought it might help me deal with my feelings, again she was right.

Thank you Sheila, you saved me, I owe you so much, we all owe you so much. You reclaimed birth for us, you took it back from the doctors who thought they knew better. You gave us our bodies back.

Rest in Peace.

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