Yesterday, the world lost a beautiful, bold, and trailblazing expert in and champion for women's choices and freedom in childbirth. Renowned author and women's rights advocate, Sheila Kitzinger, died in her home in England yesterday after a short illness. She was attended by her husband of 63 years, Uwe Kitzinger, who said of his wife, "She was great to be married to, and she was a wonderful mother." (BBC) Kitzinger was 86.
The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth (2003)Kitzinger was most known as being an "natural childbirth" icon, advocating for freedom and choice in childbirth, and for a shift in focus from the care provider to the mother. In fact, Kitzinger is also known as the inventor of the "birth plan," a tool which would help women better advocate for their choices in childbirth. Kitzinger authored more than 25 books, many of which are excellent reads in preparation for and childbirth, breastfeeding, and postpartum, including:
- Rediscovering Birth (2001)
- The Year After Childbirth: Enjoying Your Body Your Relationships, and Your Baby's First Year (1996)
- The New Pregnancy and Childbirth: Choices and Challenges (2003)
- Birth Your Way (2002)
Kitzinger's work, influence, and advocacy also was a big part of shaping and influencing the work of Lamaze. In a tribute on our sister blog, Science & Sensibility, Judith Lothian, PhD, RN, LCCE, FACCE, co-author of The Official Lamaze Guide, writes:
Kitzinger wrote powerfully of the need for childbirth educators to not just teach women about birth but to advocate within the system for change, to take strong stands in support of normal physiologic birth, home birth, and humane, empowering childbirth. Her call to action drove my own work within Lamaze. The result was a philosophy of birth that was courageous and groundbreaking and has driven the work of the organization since then. Advocacy is a competency of a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator and the mission of the organization clearly identifies the role of advocacy.
Thank you, Sheila Kitzinger, for your many years of service, advocacy, enthusiasm, and commitment. Your passion and work has changed the trajectory of women's choices in childbirth. And for that, we are grateful.