Her authoritarian views are aimed as much at obstetricians as their patients, and can have unfortunate consequences. During my first labour my son died because his cord was prolapsed, and the ensuing placental haemorrhage threatened my own life - so that a Caesarean finally became inevitable.
While in that stage of anaesthesia in which people assume you can't hear anything, I heard my consultant say: "Of course, I should have offered a Caesarean, but they think you're a monster." I had given him no grounds to assume that I was part of this campaigning "they" group.
A year later I had my second Caesarean, which was almost certainly unnecessary; it culminated in the joy of greeting my second son, who is now a challenging adolescent.
Natural childbirth may indeed be a wonderful experience, but the long- term value of those few hours is as nothing compared with the lifetime of either parenthood or the irredeemable loss that follows.
Prof GILLIAN MORRISS-KAY
Department of Human Anatomy