Tuesday, June 16, 2015

OBIT: Oxonian Sheila Kitzinger Gave Birth and Died, Naturally

Sheila Kitzinger, 1929-2015
Sheila Helena Elizabeth Kitzinger studied social anthropology at Ruskin and St. Hugh's, Oxford. She was a leader in the movement for natural childbirth. She explained that obstetricians had taken over from midwives, and the result was not all good.

She wrote many books exploring childbirth and related themes such as female sexuality.

Born in 1929, she died on April 11 of this year. Her obituary in the Guardian of April 12 is here.

The circumstances of her death were in keeping with her beliefs about childbirth. She continued to question the extent of medical interventions. When she was diagnosed with cancer, she submitted to treatments in order to finish her latest book.

However, with her the book finished, when her cancer returned she saw no reason to undergo the rituals on cancer interventions. She was buried as she requested in a decorated cardboard coffin.

She married Uwe Kitzinger, a refugee from Germany who served as an economist in European posts. He was a prominent common market advocate who became Dean of INSEAD. He was appointed the first president of Templeton College. Templeton in 2008 merged with Green College to form Green Templeton.


Someone asked me where Dr. Fernand Lamaze fits into this cause. He championed natural childbirth based on preparing the mother. It was a technique popularized in the 1940s by French obstetrician Dr. Lamaze based on his observations in the Soviet Union as an alternative to the use of medical intervention during childbirth. His work surely preceded Sheila Kitzinger's, but her scope was broader.

More Oxonian Obits

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