The Royal College of Midwives has described Sheila Kitzinger MBE, who died at the age of 86 over the weekend, as a midwifery “pioneer”.
Her death was announced by her publisher, Pinter & Martin, on Sunday. In a statement on its website, the company said Ms Kitzinger died calmly at her home in Oxfordshire after a short illness on 11 April.
“She was a great friend of the midwifery profession, and will be as greatly missed as her legacy will be celebrated”
The statement paid tribute to her as an internationally renowned childbirth educator, anthropologist and feminist icon.
Author of over 25 bestselling books including The Complete Book of Pregnancy & Childbirth, Ms Kitzinger was viewed as a highly influential figure in the childbirth movement.
In a pioneering career spanning more than 50 years, she campaigned for and oversaw a radical change in maternity care, which placed women’s rights and choices at the very heart of childbirth.
Responding to the news of the death of Ms Kitzinger, RCM chief executive Cathy Warwick said: “Sheila Kitzinger had a pioneering and inestimable influence on the role of modern midwifery over the last 40 years.
“She challenged the orthodoxy of a passive, over-medicalised approach to childbirth, from the 1970s to today, and gave women a sense of their entitlement to choice,” she said.
“A doughty feminist, an influential author, and a committed campaigner, she was a great friend of the midwifery profession, and will be as greatly missed as her legacy will be celebrated,” she added.
Pinter & Martin is due to publish her autobiography – A Passion for Birth: My life: anthropology, family and feminism – which was finished just before her death, in May.
The publisher’s managing director, Martin Wagner, said: “Sheila Kitzinger was an extraordinary woman and tirelessly campaigned to make the world a better place for us all.”