After two hospital births, I chose to give birth to my third child at home unassisted. I get lots of questions from curious people. Still, there are many others who stay silent but still wonder why I and other women make that choice. There is a lot of misinformation surrounding unassisted childbirth. I am hoping that this article will explain things to those who are interested, as well as encourage those who are beginning to explore this option for their own birth.
What is an unassisted birth?
Unassisted birth is defined as a birth that takes place without a trained birth attendant present. There are two types of unassisted births that take place. The first type is unplanned. Unplanned unassisted births take place when there was no time to make it to the birth place, the birth attendant didn't arrive in time, or medical help was not available. These births are more risky because the mother or family is usually not prepared to handle complications. The second type is planned unassisted birth. These take place when the mother and family has planned to give birth without an attendant present.
Why do women choose planned unassisted birth?
Women choose to give birth unassisted for many reasons. In some states, it is illegal or risky for a midwife to attend births at home, so a woman will choose unassisted birth in order to give birth in her location of choice. In some cases, the woman was denied a trial of birth with a midwife or in a hospital for reasons such as a breech baby or a previous cesarean. Still, there are women who choose unassisted birth because it is the best choice for them.
I personally chose an unassisted birth at home because I could not risk interference of my labor from anyone who did not completely trust my body's ability and the safety of birth. It is not likely that the nearest midwife would have made it in time anyway, as I had a quick and easy 4 ½ hour labor.
Isn't that dangerous?
Women who choose to give birth unassisted are smart people. They educate themselves about the birth process and prepare themselves for any complications that may arise. A solid backup plan is essential as with any home birth, including who will be called, what will be done, and who will take any older children should there be an emergency.
Many unassisted birthers take newborn resuscitation classes, train themselves in how to recognize and handle excess blood loss and shock, as well as how to handle many other emergency childbirth situations.
Making the choice
Making the choice to give birth unassisted is part logical, part intuition, and part spiritual. It is my belief that anyone choosing to give birth unassisted should be completely prepared and comfortable with the idea. The answer as to whether to give birth unassisted depends on the pregnancy, the situation, and the attitudes of everyone who will be involved with the birth. I will warn you that unassisted birth is not a choice that most people are comfortable with, including family, friends, and medical professionals. If you do choose this for your birth, be prepared for opposition.
Preparation is the key to unassisted birth, which includes having a solid backup plan and knowing when to seek professional help. It's important to be humble and realistic. The safety of you and your baby is first and foremost. You'll prepare for an unassisted home birth just as you would an attended home birth. In addition, you'll need to know what a birth attendant would do in certain situations and emergencies. It's also important that you be a part of a community of women who have previously given birth unassisted. You can find these communities online.