Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Why I'm Considering Unassisted Birth

Holding my baby after his birth at home.

I've made no secret of my desire for an unassisted birth. I've posted about it a few times on here and many times on the Mamas and Babies facebook page. While it's an incredibly personal decision for me, I've wanted to be open with the Mamas and Babies following and hopefully help bring a new perspective to other mamas who may be curious about unassisted birth.

I'd like to explore some of my thoughts about unassisted birth, and how I've come to consider it.

I first heard about unassisted childbirth about two years ago when I was pregnant and planning my first home birth. Kasie shared her beautiful unassisted birth story, and I was deeply inspired by her experience. I thought she was an incredible woman and I admired her for following her gut and doing what she felt was best for her and her baby. I also thought that I probably wouldn't ever have an unassisted birth. My impression was that it was something women chose only if they didn't have access to good midwifery care for home birth. I had access to wonderful midwives and didn't see any reason I would choose to not take advantage of that.

As time went on I heard about other women giving birth unassisted and I started learning more about it. I realized that some women felt drawn to it and chose it even if they had other options available. It wasn't only for the woman who wanted a VBAC and couldn't find anyone who would support her, so she turned to birthing alone. It was something women were pulled to by some unseen force.

I found it interesting that the women I met who supported unassisted birth were not advocating for it. Each one said they wouldn't specifically recommend it to anyone, but it should be an individual choice. It seemed as though it was regarded as a calling of sorts rather than something to aspire to.

I had no aspirations of unassisted birth. I thought it would be really amazing to experience, and that it would make a nice next step in the progression of my birth journey I'd found myself on. However, it was definitely not a decision to be made quickly or lightly. To plan birth without the support of a trained care provider was, in my opinion, a very serious matter.

On the Mamas and Babies facebook page I sometimes found myself suggesting unassisted birth to women in certain situations, with a strong caution that the woman seriously consider all options and make the decision she felt was best for her and her baby.

I'd always believed I could handle anything in birth as long as I had the right support people. In the hospital that was my husband and my doula. For my home birth it was my husband and the midwives. I even had a moment during my home birth when I panicked as a contraction started and I realized I was alone. It was the worst and most painful part of my labor because I was scared and it made everything hurt worse. As I've reflected on that experience I've realized that I'd been depending on a false belief that I had to have certain people there to support me during birth. I've since realized that I'm capable and strong enough to birth even alone if need be.

I've had this feeling nagging at the back of my mind ever since I first read Kasie's story, and it's gotten stronger over time. I'm being drawn to unassisted birth. It's not something I chose; I feel I was chosen for it. I feel it's part of my personal journey.

When I was pregnant with my second miscarriage I had a strong desire to be left alone. I didn't even want to tell my midwife I was pregnant, and I didn't want to have any prenatal care until the second trimester when I'd be able to hear a heart beat and know that all was well. I wanted to labor and give birth alone, without anyone there but my family. I knew part of it was the fact that I'd only recently gone through my first miscarriage and I was terrified of going through that again. I was also depressed and I attributed my desire to isolate myself to the depression, but an interesting thing happened. After the miscarriage I was able to pull out of the depression and feel like myself again, but the desire for unassisted birth has stayed, steady and strong.

I've prayed about it for several months now. I've asked that if it's the best thing for me to plan for an unassisted birth with my next pregnancy then the desire would stay and I would feel peaceful about it, and if it wasn't best the desire would leave or I would feel uneasy. The desire is stronger than ever and I feel extreme peace about it. It's the same peace I felt when I decided to plan a home birth for my fifth baby.

I know from experience how important it is to follow my feelings. I didn't know when I planned a home birth that my baby would end up being breech. Being at home saved me from an unnecessary c-section. I couldn't have known that would happen, but I'm so glad I followed my heart and did what I knew was best. I have the same feeling about unassisted birth.

I don't know why, or what will happen. All I know is that this is what I feel I need to do. Maybe after the birth I'll be able to pinpoint a reason and say “That's why I needed to do this unassisted”, or maybe it will just be a beautiful empowering part of my journey. I know that I have things to learn still, and I feel that unassisted birth will teach me some of the things I need to learn. I'm not being presumptuous about this. It's not something I aspire to as an experience to check off some list of things I want to do. It's something I feel, deep inside my soul, I need to do.

There's a very spiritual aspect to this that I must mention. It's a key part of my decision, and I would be neglectful not to express it. I feel that embracing and planning an unassisted birth is part of my growing relationship with God. By letting go of the trust I placed in my doctors and midwives in the past and placing that trust instead in God, I'm growing. I'm learning to have more faith not only in myself, but in my Father in Heaven who loves me and wants me to be happy. I know that He is guiding me to choose this, and that He will guide me through my unassisted pregnancy and birth just as He did through my previous pregnancies and births. This is the next step, and I'm looking forward to it!

It's because of the resounding peace I feel, that I'm not worried. I realize that I can't possibly prepare myself fully for every possibility in labor and birth, but I'm OK with that. I'll prepare myself the best I can, but I'm not going to worry about the things that are out of my control. I have God for that.

I still don't know specifically what I'll do. I feel comfortable doing my own prenatal care, but I'm not sure if I will. I feel just as comfortable giving birth at home without the support of my midwife, but I'm not sure who else I will want to have there. For the first time since my first baby's birth I want to have my mother and my sister at my baby's birth. That's a big step for me, and I've already started talking with them both about my feelings and my plans because I want them to be ready to support me through labor and birth if that's what I feel I need. They're both cautiously supportive, and I know they're uncomfortable about the very concept unassisted birth. It will probably take some time and more prayers to get to the point of having their full support, but I feel good about it.

It's funny that I'm planning this when I'm not even pregnant yet. The timing is very interesting. I don't know if I would have been prepared to do this if either my first or second miscarriage had remained a viable pregnancy. Somehow, I think this is all connected and I definitely feel there is a higher purpose to everything I experience. I'm grateful to know that, and I'm so glad that my life is being guided by an omnipotent being rather than the imperfect person I am.


  1. Paths in life take us to many places, enjoy your journey mama. :)

  2. This is a beautiful post. I have been reading your blog for some time now, but have never commented. I am experiencing a similar situation to yours, in that I am not pregnant now (nor have I ever been pregnant) and I have severe endometriosis. However, over the past year and a half, I have been drawn to home birth and have developed an extremely strong desire to experience a home birth. One that is spiritual and awe inspiring and strengthens me. I know that this desire did not come from within myself. I used to be the type of person who, when hearing or reading of women having home births, would scratch my head and wonder why. It gives me hope that I will be able to become pregnant one day and have the home birth that I so strongly desire. This post made me think that it must also be my Heavenly Father guiding my life and leading me down this path. Because if it were left up to me, I'd be sulking somewhere and feeling sorry for myself, assuming that I would never get pregnant, as I'm often told by medical doctors. I love how Heavenly Father knows our needs, and allows us experiences to grow and become the people he needs us to be! Thank you for such an informative blog. --Amanda

  3. Wonderful post! Thanks for sharing such personal thoughts! I am so grateful for your example of faith!

  4. It is interesting how different paths lead us to different choices. All you can do is follow the Holy Ghost and make the best choice for you and your family.

  5. I'm very impressed (and grateful) for your willingness to be open about your journey. It is a hard and personal decision to decide how/where you are going to birth. Often when we think "personal" we don't share our thoughts with others. But we, as women, often have similar thoughts, fears, and desires that when we share we understand and validate others in their path. SO, thank you for your willingness to include us in your path. I especially enjoyed,connected with, and ditto your comment:
    "I feel that embracing and planning an unassisted birth is part of my growing relationship with God. By letting go of the trust I placed in my doctors and midwives in the past and placing that trust instead in God, I'm growing. I'm learning to have more faith not only in myself, but in my Father in Heaven who loves me and wants me to be happy. I know that He is guiding me to choose this, and that He will guide me through my unassisted pregnancy and birth just as He did through my previous pregnancies and births. This is the next step, and I'm looking forward to it!"
    So true, awesome, and well written...
    Thank you!!
    Beth Ashton

  6. Beth, thank you so much for your comment. A friend shared the link to your radio broadcast with me just yesterday and I listened to it. I want to thank YOU for sharing your very personal experience with the world! I connected with you on many levels while listening to your journey, and I appreciated the scripture references and quotes you shared as well. I'll be sharing the link to your broadcast in a later blog post on here, along with the quote by Brigham Young, which I felt really hit the nail on the head.

  7. Another great post! I agree that most unassisted birthers (myself included) don't "advocate" going unassisted. I don't want anyone to think it's something "cool" to definitely shouldn't be taken lightly! I recently wrote a blog post on my take on childbirth now (as opposed to in the past) and felt I had to be very careful in clarifying that just because I had two UC's and LOVED every minute of them, I do not think that other women should choose to birth unassisted unless it is something they are willing to put a LOT of time and research into preparing for.