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Former Marine Commando Enters Dangerous Childbirth Territory


12 August 2002
Southern Cross University PhD student, Leigh Dick-Read, is well aware he's entering dangerous territory by tackling the subject of natural childbirth.

First, there's the women who will take umbrage at him being involved in the topic at all, and then there are some members of the medical fraternity who consider that childbirth should remain a medical matter.

But the British, former marine commando, and psychotherapist, is not shying from the topic and he's calling on members of the public to assist him.

"The definition of natural childbirth as it occurs in the west is actually quite rubbery: to me it's having babies as nature intended, according to nature's design," Leigh Dick-Read said.

"And there are several aims to my research: first, it's to explore the circumstances under which natural childbirth can be achieved, and how the relationship between natural childbirth and mental health can be achieved.

"The next aim is to remove the need for unnecessary intervention; and the final aim is to explore the personal, family and community benefits of achieving natural childbirth."

Mr Dick-Read said he was not advocating that medicos should get out of obstetrics entirely: "that would be ludicrous; to abandon all the advanced measures we have in the west to assist women and their babies who are in trouble during the pregnancy or the birth".

"But I believe there is too much medical intervention - which is dominated by medical men and their own interests - when it's women who are the real experts on having babies," he said.

"The problem is they've forgotten how to do it; they've stopped listening to the older women in their families and this has gone on for generations, so they've lost control of their own specialty.

"And I do wish women would recognise how much power they actually have, and take back control of the birth of their babies; if they did they could change the current system within a decade or so."

Mr Dick-Read said men also often suffered from common current practices during childbirth because "seeing the women they love suffer unexpectedly, and being unable to help, leaves them devastated and afraid and even psychologically damaged for life."

"So I want to invite men and women of all ages, who've been involved in the childbirth experience to participate in this 'action research' project," he said.

"I'm using an action research model because I want the participants to actually be involved in the design of the research project - rather than fronting up and answering a lot of preconceived questions, if you'll pardon the pun."

Anyone interested in participating in the project should be aged over 18 years and willing to attend the University one night per week over a period of four months.

To register an interest, call Leigh Dick-Read on Tel: 6620 3676, or 0402 007 042.

For further information on Southern Cross University's School of Nursing and Health Care Practices, visit the University's website: