Friday, September 3, 2010

Researching Planned Unassisted Childbirth (Freebirth)

A few days ago I provided information on preparing for a possible (surprise) unassisted birth.  I'm hesitant to provide information on how to prepare for a planned unassisted birth.  It's an extremely important personal decision, and I would never tell someone they should have an unassisted birth.  I provide this in an effort to help educate, without promoting or endorsing planned freebirth.  I understand that some expectant parents desire an unassisted birth, and if you or someone you know has made this choice it's important to educate yourself and be as informed as possible in your decision to birth without the support of a doctor or midwife.  I've chosen to provide resources rather than a guide or instruction manual, so that you may find information to prepare yourself.  This post is meant as a starting point for research and should not be relied upon for complete preparation.

In the United States it's completely legal to give birth anywhere, including at home.  In states where home birth midwives are illegal or difficult to find, some parents choose to plan for unassisted birth at home.  This can be a safe viable option when the parents are educated, informed, and prepared.

The first thing to do is educate yourself on the birth process itself.  Understand what happens and what you will likely experience as your body goes through this beautiful event and gives birth to a healthy baby.  If you've given birth before, then you probably have a pretty good idea of what will happen but you may want to do some research about doing it alone.  If this will be your first birth, or even your first vaginal birth, please read as much as you can and prepare yourself for this most important day.

Suggested reading:

  • "Unassisted Birth" by Laura Kaplan Shanley
  • "Unassisted Homebirth: An Act of Love" by Lynn Griesemer
  • "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth" by Ina May Gaskin
  • "Spiritual Midwifery" by Ina May Gaskin
  • "Emergency Childbirth: A Manual" by Gregory J. White
  • "Childbirth Without Fear" by Grantly Dick-Read

Suggested websites:

What's the law?  Please remember to research the laws where you live.  For instance, in the United States each state has its own laws about birth certificates, and it's important to know what will be required of you to legally obtain one.  Often the birth certificate application also triggers the request for a Social Security Card.  Many states require witnesses to sign the birth certification application, and in some states a blood test or maternity test may be required under certain circumstances.

Get the supplies:  Although you can give birth with virtually nothing, it's good to be prepared and get the supplies you may need.  I prefer to be over-prepared rather than under-prepared.  Here are just a couple of places you can order birth kits online:


  1. Hi Cherylyn~
    I also wanted to mention the forum on Laura Shanley's Bornfree site ( Personally, I have found it to be THE best resource for moms planning an unassisted birth, with fantastic and experienced moderators and a wealth of articles, along with non-judgmental support for women, regardless of how they end up birthing.

  2. Thanks for providing that list - there are some good resources and information there. I also totally agree that it is difficult and not desirable to tell anyone how to prepare for an unassisted homebirth. Information, and personal choices, are the key. I just wanted to throw in that many families who opt to have an unassisted birth do so for reasons other than a lack of homebirth midwives, or other competent providers (like in the case of hospital VBACs being "banned"). UC can be about what families DO want from their births, as opposed to what they want to avoid. A physiological birth, privacy, and freedom to change positions or do anything at all (eat, drink, sleep, read, have a bath) come to mind here.


  3. Thank you for the reference Sondra :)

    Olivia, thank you for your perspective as well. I understand that unassisted birth can also be a choice of preference and not just out of necessity. I personally feel that all of the things you mentioned (being able to eat, drink, sleep, etc. during labor) can also be done with the support of a good midwife at home. Unassisted birth is not the only way to achieve those desires. However, I recognize that some expectant parents also desire to be alone with just their family and no one else. The reasons people choose freebirth are limitless and dependent on those making the choices.

  4. I thought you might be interested in this thesis on UC.

  5. Thank you for posting this. My first was a homebirth with my husband, doula and the only Japanese midwife on our island that would help Americans. This time around my husband will be deployed and my or may not opt for the midwife. So this unassisted really will be unassisted (unless you count my 2 year old's assistance). I appreciate your list of books as self-education cannot be stressed enough for parents. Parenting begins long before a baby is born and it starts with being proactive and prepared through self-education! THanks so much!