"Just as a woman's heart knows how and when to pump, her lungs to inhale, and her hand to pull back from fire, so she knows when and how to give birth." - Virginia di Orio
Remember Kasie's story of her unassisted home birth?
That birth story was huge for me. When I first read it, I was 7 months pregnant and planning my own first home birth. Her story gave me great encouragement. I saw a lot of similarities between Kasie and myself, with the exception that I was planning a midwife assisted birth and she had an unassisted birth.
Unassisted birth - or "freebirth", as it's sometimes called - is intriguing to me. I sometimes wonder how my own home birth experience would have been different without the support of my midwives. With a surprise breech, I'm really glad the midwives were there, and everything went smoothly. I like to believe that if I'd given birth without the midwives it all would have gone smoothly, but I suppose I'll never know.
What I do know for myself is this: If I prayed about planning an unassisted birth and felt the overwhelming peace that I felt after praying about home birth, I would definitely do it.
I'm in a good position for excellent home birth support. Through the process of my doula training and ongoing midwifery training I'm developing a fantastic network of amazing doulas and midwives. Many of them are dear friends. I feel that as long as I live here I will not want for better birth support at home. I may never have a reason to consider freebirth.
But what about the women who live in areas where, for whatever reason, cannot get the support they want for a home birth? While home birth is legal throughout the United States, in many states it's against the law to have a trained midwife attend your baby's birth at home. This means that women wanting a home birth in those areas have two options: go "underground" and try to find a midwife to support them illegally at home, or plan an unassisted birth.
The reasons for choosing freebirth are varied. Some women choose it because of limited options, as I described above. Others choose it because they prefer to give birth to their child without any interference whatsoever, surrounded by loved ones, often just their partner and other children.
We don't really know how many women are giving birth at home without midwives because there are no reliable statistics. Nationwide, 90 percent of births still take place in hospitals with doctors attending. Another 8 to 10 percent are with midwives in hospitals or birthing centers. And 1 to 2 percent are at home.
Regardless of the reasons and circumstances surrounding a planned unassisted birth, the choice should not be taken lightly. If you're interested in or considering a freebirth you should do your homework and educate yourself as much as possible. Check out documentaries (such as The Business of Being Born), find support groups in your area, read up on the natural birth process as much as possible and take classes on it. It's best to avoid classes that are taught at the local hospital or health clinic, because they mostly likely wouldn't give you the information you need for a birth outside of the hospital. The Bradley Method is one class I think would be really informative. Hypnobirthing and Hypnobabies are good as well. Find online groups and other women who have done freebirth. Find out how best to prepare yourself and your home for an unassisted birth.
A word of caution: I personally would not recommend freebirth for a first-time mom, because to her labor and birth are completely uncharted territory. I would suggest having a midwife-supported birth at home or in a good birth center. Then you may consider an unassisted birth with your next baby. You don't always know how your labor will play out and how you will react in certain situations until you've been through it.
So there you have it. What do you think of unassisted childbirth?