Active Birth Manifesto

The Active Birth Manifesto was completed by Janet for the Birth Rights Rally in London in 1982. This was a demonstration in North London, organised by the Active Birth Movement to support women’s right to freedom of movement and the use of upright positions in our maternity services.  The manifesto remains the definitive document on Active Birth and although Active Birth is now widely applied and is a well known generic term, its principles have yet to be fully implemented.


When training as birth educator and beginning her career in Active Birth, Janet was disillusioned by the prevalent culture of medicalised birthing practices, known in the early 1980’s as ‘Active Management of Labour and Birth’. With a strong belief that most women can and should give birth naturally, she began her own research.  What stood out first was the realisation that cross cultural birthing practices throughout history involved the mother’s freedom to move in labour, and to be upright for birth. Only in our times, with the development of modern obstetrics over the past 300 years, has the prevailing custom become for all women to recline in a posture of submission to intervention. This has been shown to lead to disempowerment and an unnecessary increase in pain, fear and complications. It has also led to the rate of surgical births rising worldwide with alarming speed. The inception of Active Birth marked the beginning of a reversal of this trend and today underlies all forms of birth education and midwifery that encourage women to  believe in their innate ability to give birth and trust, first of all, in the power of their own bodies.

Click to Download and Read The Active Birth Manifesto 


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