Sheila Kitzinger

Sheila Kitzinger

A social anthropologist specialising in childbirth, Sheila Kitzinger has done fieldwork on birth in Jamaica, South Africa, Mexico, New Zealand (learning from the Maoris), Italy and Eastern European countries. She has also worked as a lecturer, birth educator and activist.

She lectures for universities and gives talks for birth and midwifery organisations around the world. She is also an examiner of academic theses in the UK and Australia and has been an Honorary Professor of Midwifery at Thames Valley University since 1994.

Becoming increasingly aware over the years of the problems that many women face, Sheila set up the Birth Crisis Network so as to support people who are distressed after traumatic births. She runs training days for midwives, doctors, doulas, therapists and birth educators, and has worked with the NCT (the National Childbirth Trust) since its foundation. She also created a teacher training scheme and set up many research projects on women’s experiences, working in collaboration with the NCT and contributed textual material for birth exhibitions at the Smithsonian, Washington and Natural Science museums. As a board member of MIDIRS (the research organisation which provides information to midwives and pregnant women), as a regular columnist for the journal Birth (published by Blackwell Science), and as a regular contributor of articles to newspapers and magazines, Sheila continues to promote the best interests of pregnant women and their babies.

Her campaigning work has focused on issues such as the need for women to be able to make their own birth plans, induction of labour, hospital birth and episiotomy, and she works with lawyers on human rights issues relevant to pregnant women, including those who are in prison or seeking asylum in the UK. Sheila is a strong believer that all women who are not at high risk—and that is most women—should have the choice of a home birth. For many years she has campaigned to promote women’s right to make their own informed decisions about childbirth, whether they feel most comfortable giving birth at home, in a hospital or at a birth centre. Birth Your Way is part of her work to help women become aware of their options.

In fact, Sheila has been a prolific writer for many years and her work has now been published in 23 languages. Her books include: The Politics of Birth (Elsevier, 2005), The New Pregnancy and Childbirth (Dorling Kindersley, 2011), Rediscovering Birth (Pinter & Martin, 2011) and Birth Crisis (Routledge, 2006).

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, her books have received many awards, including the Horn Book Award and The Times Literary Award, and she was awarded an MBE for services in childbirth education. Since 2006, she has even had her portrait in the National Portrait Gallery in London—as one of the individuals who have made a major contribution to health in the UK.

To sum up, when you read Birth Your Way, you can be certain that you’re reading the words of a true expert. Not only has Sheila given birth to five babies herself, she has also worked with many other women, and midwives too, so she has a very broad perspective of the personal and practical challenges you might face when you plan your own birth—wherever you choose that to be.

Birth Your Way provides welcome reassurance for anybody considering giving birth in a birthing centre (either self-standing or down the corridor from a regular maternity ward) - or at home.