Sheila Kitzinger was the natural childbirth activist and author 'who taught British women how to give birth', with generations of mothers following her invaluable advice.Here, in memoirs completed just before her death in April, aged 86, she lays bare her colourful and charmingly eccentric life story.After we'd discussed this realistically, she sorted out an illegal abortion that was performed with skill, tact and understanding in my own bedroom by an obstetrician friend of hers. I felt incredibly guilty at what I'd done to my parents. He took a part-time job with the railway, so every time I bought a ticket to London, I had to confront him through the booking-office hatch. I met the man who was to become my husband on a plane.
She'd become a committed pacifist after her brother was killed in World War I, so many of my early memories are of going to peace rallies.By the Eighties, most women were expected to give birth on a bed and accept any drugs on offer.I believe that for all but a tiny minority of women, birth need not and should not be like this; and that to turn the process of bringing new life into the world into one in which the woman is a passive patient, rather than an active birth-giver, not only degrades her but makes childbirth more dangerous.The man seated next to me, I learned, was the president of the Oxford students' debating union. Apparently, I spoke so enthusiastically about my experiences in America, waving my arms about, that he was hooked. The months after I met Uwe were days of wine and roses.We walked along the river Isis, made nests in the long grass and explored the finer arts of petting.