It turns out that Unassisted Childbirth or "free birth" (a birth that is not attended by any medical care provider) is a natural birth option that many women choose for a variety of reasons. Whether for personal or religious reasons or because licensed midwifery care at home is illegal in that state, unassisted birth usually takes place at home with only the mother, her partner, other friends and family, and sometimes a doula present.
While I don't think it's something I would choose for myself (though I was starting to think we'd have an unplanned unassisted birth with our second baby), I am fascinated with unassisted birth and why women choose it. I've asked Alix from Blessed in Homemaking to share a little bit about why she and her husband chose unassisted birth for her two home births. (This post contains affiliate links.)
Shannon: Can you give readers a description of what unassisted birth entails?Alix: Well, you get the privilege of doing everything yourself. You labor without (usually) needless interruptions of checking dilation, or fetal monitoring. You or your husband get to catch the baby, cut the cord. It's a huge bonding experience with your spouse, and instead of baby being whisked away for a check-up, you get to be the only ones snuggling him/her.
Shannon: Will you give us a quick summary of your birth experiences?
Alix: I labored for 21 hours with my first (my son). I had several people at his birth, for support, but no midwife or medically trained people. I gave birth to him in the bathtub. Hubby caught him. We didn't have any complications whatsoever.
My daughter was born in a birthing pool (highly recommend!) after 17 hours of labor. I caught her myself (it was amazing!), and we snuggled while the cord finished pulsing.
Once we cut the cord, I got out of the pool and into the bathtub, to deliver the placenta. It took a long time to come out, and I hemorrhaged a bit, and passed out for a moment. Thankfully, we had given birth at a friend's house. She had left us alone during the entire birth, but we called her in to help after giving birth.
We finally got the placenta out, and I got in bed with plenty of liquids and nourishing foods, and quickly felt much better.
Shannon: Why did you first consider an unassisted birth?Alix: A few things. My best friend's mother-in-law has a lot of children, and she birthed most of them at home. We spoke with her a lot. We also read a couple of books that helped convince us: Husband Coached Childbirth, and another book that I cannot seem to remember the name of.
Shannon: Was your husband on board from the beginning, or did he take some convincing?Alix: He was on board from the beginning. He read Husband Coached Childbirth with me, and it convinced him.
Shannon: How did you gain the confidence you needed to pursue an unassisted birth?Alix: By studying and preparing. We took a Bradley Method childbirth class, which was extremely helpful. We practiced birth positions, and relaxation. We read Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way. We researched what to do in emergency situations.
Shannon: What types of "medical" supplies and tools did you have available in your birth kit? (I say "medical" meaning anything health-related including herbs, essential oils, etc)Alix: We had things like gauze, "puppy pads" (to lay under me after giving birth, to keep blood off the sheets),cord clamp, cord scissors, bulb syringe (snot sucker), etc. Normal birth stuff.
We also had red raspberry tea for me to drink throughout and after labor, and we had cinnamon and cayenne on hand in case we needed to quickly slow the bleeding. During my labor with my daughter, I would pace the room smelling a bottle of basil essential oil. Sometimes I switched to frankincense. Those two scents were very comforting to me.
Shannon: Under what circumstances would you have considered transferring to a hospital if necessary? Or did you have a midwife on back up just in case?Alix: If things had gotten dangerous, we would have either called a midwife or gone to the hospital. But we were very much at peace and confident that God had His hand at our births. Some emergencies can be handled yourself if you are knowledgeable about what to do, and some require medical assistance.
The best thing you can do is study (you and your spouse) emergency situations, and how to respond to each situation. You should always be prepared.
Shannon: What type of prenatal care did you receive during your pregnancies?Alix: I did all of my own prenatal care. I just took care of myself. I ate right, drank plenty, and exercised. I took great prenatal vitamins. I followed the eating plan recommended in Husband Coached Childbirth.
Having a midwife, or even a cooperative doctor, care for you during your pregnancy is great, but don't be afraid to take things into your own hands if you want.
Women have been having babies for thousands of years without tests or blood work or anything like that. I wasn't comfortable having all of that done, so I didn't. I just used common sense in caring for myself and my babies.