Letter: Women in labour come first

WHEN IS assisting at a birth like harvesting potatoes? When you subscribe to the June Buritsky school of midwifery (Letters, 31 October).

My midwife was quite happy for me to give birth on the floor, hanging from the banisters, or anywhere else I fancied. All the 'help' that's needed during an ordinary labour is for someone to catch the baby: a skilled midwife will have the confidence to sit back and let the labour progress naturally.

The fashion for giving birth on a bed was instituted by doctors who considered it undignified to sink to their knees when attending a birth. But balancing a labouring woman on a high shelf in unfamiliar surroundings is often the first link in a chain that ends in artificial intervention by the 'helpers'.

Women beware: the exhortations to 'compromise' and give your helpers 'equal consideration' are the thin end of the wedge. Heed them, and you may well end up flat on your back with your ankles strapped to something heavy. A labouring woman should hold centre stage. There's no room for extra prima donnas.

I had half-expected someone to write in, claiming that to give birth in my living room was to endanger the safety of my child. But risking the health of the midwife? I am certain that midwives who attend births such as that of my son, reap psychological benefits which far outweigh the inconvenience of wearing out the knees of their jeans.

Caroline Hull

London SW19