Did you know that perfectly reasonable, well-educated women sometimes choose to give birth at home without the asssistance of a midwife? For most people, that comes as a shock. As Americans we immediately associate childbirth with doctor, hospital, charts and monitoring devices. But, in other parts of the world, it’s so much simpler – midwife-assisted homebirth is the norm.
Here in America, it is not uncommen for a woman with an uncomplicated pregnancy to struggle to find a midwife to assist her birth. Midwives can be expensive and are rarely covered by health insurance. Other obstacles include proximity, personality conflicts and even midwives that are too booked with other births to offer service. When a heavily monitored, high-intervention hospital birth is her only option for medical assistance, she may decide for the freedom of a homebirth on her own terms. If she’s had a c-section before, unassisted childbirth (UC) may be her ONLY option for a normal birth. Other women choose to UC out of their desire for intimacy and ownership in the birth process. It’s her birth, her baby and her home.
The idea came as a shock to me at first. But, after some reflection, I can really see where these women are coming from. Birth is such a natural process. Especially after having one or more natural birth in a supportive, encouraging environment (as I’ve been blessed to experience), a woman begins to trust birth. It’s not so complicated, really. A health body, a supportive team of adults, lots of planning ahead and self-education… If I was in a tight spot, I would consider UC too.
If the idea of UC seems completely crazy to you, take a moment to read the birth of Ella Raine. For a huge list of planned unassisted birth stories (some of which turned out differently) go here. To learn more about UC, hop on over to Mothering.com’s Unassisted Childbirth board. You’ll find helpful threads on common issues, including:
The mamas on Mothering.com are very happy to share their experiences and advice with other moms. Many of them do receive OB care during their pregnancies, simply keeping their plan for UC a secret. They do an immense amount of self-education in preparation and stock up on birth supplies. Usually a husband or good friend provides labor support, though some also hire a doula. I am impressed and inspired by these women who go to such great lengths to do what they feel is best for themselves and their baby.
- Watch Real Live Births on YouTube
- The Birth Survey
- The Business of Being Born
- Reasons to Induce: Poor, Controversial, and Solid
- Must-Reads for Pregnancy & Birth