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Natural Birth Guru Sheila Kitzinger Dead At 86

Prolific author, anthropologist and child birth expert, Sheila Kitzinger died at her home in Oxfordshire at the age of 86.

Kitzinger was a prolific author of books for parents-to-be and came to be known as the “high priestess of natural childbirth”. She was an early leader of natural childbirth movement in 1960s and 1970s and sought to shift the focus to the mother during pregnancy and birth, according to The Guardian.

Sheila Kitzinger believed that mothers need to be the focus during pregnancy and childbirth instead of clinicians. She was born in a cottage in Taunton, Somerset, in 1929, and she studied social anthropology at the University of Oxford.

As a strong advocate of home birth and natural birth, she had her own five children at home and believed midwives played a crucial role. According to BBC, in her 1962 book The Experience of Childbirth she also argued that birth had the potential to be a “psychosexual experience”.

Among her other famous books were Ourselves as Mothers and The Complete Book of Pregnancy. Her autobiography is due to be published next month.

[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Uwe Kitzinger” author_title=”Political analyst and Sheila’s husband”]

Sheila was a ‘woman of great spunk’. She was an icon of home birth who decided to have a home death.


Celia Kitzinger, her eldest daughter, said she was much more than ‘natural birth guru’; she had campaigned on many issues including end to female genital mutilation.

[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Celia Kitzinger” author_title=”Professor at the University of York”]

My mother taught me from an early age that the personal was political, not just by what she said but by what she did. As I was growing up, I learned from her campaigns for freedom and choice in childbirth that passionate and committed individuals can create social change. She never hesitated to speak truth to power.


An active writer and campaigner into her eighties, Sheila Kitzinger set up the Birth Crisis Network, a helpline for mothers who had experienced a traumatic birth. She has spent her entire life to improve the conditions of natural child birth across the globe and for that we thank her.

Last week, James Best, a legendary American actor most famous for his role as Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane in TV show The Dukes of Hazzard, died at a similar age. More on this story here.

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