Unassisted Childbirth

Back in the good old days, when I was a subsistence farmer in paradise, I had a friend who told me her birth story. This was before I started working with birth, but not before I had already started studying and learning, and listening to women's stories.
Friends Sharing Birth Stories

 My friend's first baby had been a breech who did not want to get her head down. The policy at that time in Italy, as in many places, was to deliver breech babies by cesarean section, especially if the woman was a primipara.

So, my friend had a c-section, and she did not feel good about that birth at all. She thought that it was probably possible to give birth to a breech baby vaginally, and she felt pushed into making a decision that did not feel right to her. She decided she didn't want to go back to the hospital again to give birth.

She became pregnant again, and decided to stay at home this time and give birth on her own terms. She looked for a homebirth midwife but at that time in Italy they were a rare breed, especially if you were living in the hills as all us organic subsistence farmers did. She prepared by reading about natural birth, and she made sure she had methergine in the house - they always had it on hand for the goats.

Labor started and she sent her husband and child out for the day. She didn't want her daughter present for what she knew was going to be an intense and possibly scary event.
This was before cell phones, and they didn't have a phone, so he planned to come back around suppertime. She labored on her own and late in the afternoon, gave birth to a healthy baby.
"Were you scared?"
"Yes, I really wanted to have someone else around. I remember when I started pushing, and I felt a cervical lip, and I gently pushed it out of the way - I really wanted someone to be there with me. But I knew everything would be okay - I had a feeling. And if it wasn't ok, then it wasn't. I did it my way."

There is a growing movement that promotes unassisted childbirth as a way to regain control over your own birth, and there are many valid reasons for not wanting anyone at all from outside your circle of family and loved ones to be present at the birth of your child. It is, after all, a natural event, more like lovemaking than like a medical procedure. The presence of a stranger, even a well-liked one, can change and disturb the process. Midwives can be regulated by laws that perhaps don't agree with a woman's perception of how she wants her birth to proceed. This site provides some interesting information about unassisted childbirth:UC

I often get calls from women who are planning to give birth without attendants. They want information, or they want to find someone to be a "fly on the wall" - who can be there "just in case". Most of these women are women who have not been able to find a registered midwife - either they didn't call early enough, or they live in the wrong area, or they are considered too high risk for a homebirth. They don't really want an unassisted birth, but they are committed to not wanting to go to the hospital unless they really have to, so they are left with unassisted birth as their only option. Because we Canadians are used to free health care, cost is also a consideration. Unregistered midwives charge around $2000 for prenatal, birth, and postpartum care (that works out to about $10.73 an hour, in case you're wondering). Many women do not feel that this amount is an option, and, again, make the choice to give birth "unassisted".

I firmly believe in a woman's right to choose what's best for her body, and for her life. If a woman chooses to give birth on her own, or just with her partner, or her sister, in her own home, then power to her! She is making an adult choice, and she is accepting responsibility. But I do feel sad when women want to have the care of a midwife and cannot.

No woman should have to give birth on her own if she doesn't want to. Midwifery care should be available, really available, to any woman. Homebirth should be an option for us all. Unassisted homebirth is only one option, but it should be an option that is actively chosen and not decided on for lack of other plans. Equally, hospital birth is only one option. Health women carrying healthy babies should not have to go to the hospital to give birth unless they actively want to. Informed choice should be a reality - it should be informed, that is, women should educate themselves and each other, and they should ask for informtaion from their care providers. And choice should be a real choice with real options - unassisted, home birth, midwifery care, hospital birth.

Let's work together to bring the woman and child back to the center of maternity care!


  1. Great post! As a freebirther, I fully agree with you that UC should only be an option if it is THE option for you, you want it, you are confortable with it, you fell secure, you know a lot about childbirth, it is your birthing way. It should never be a by default option, or a option you fell pressured to choose.

  2. One question: I don't understand your 1.73$/hour wage...

  3. Stephanie thank you for pointing that out. I meant 10.73, which, if you put in about 100 hours for a lady, and you are working with a partner, divides to about ten dollars an hour...

  4. UC is the only option for us because we can't afford a midwife at home or a hospital birth. None the less I would still seriously consider it if we COULD afford the $3000+. I would like a fly on the wall but can't pay rent and the utilities in the same month let less for a fly that most likely I'd never need. So here we are researching. Can I just say how much I think insurance sucks! They will pay for prenatal 100% but only 80% and ONLY in hospital for the birth. Why do we spend our much needed $300 every month on it? We eat dandelions because they free for goodness sake! It could be far worse but it just annoys me that insurance won't even pay for a midwife home birth!

  5. I hear you! Did you know there are travelling midwives who will come to your home and assist you, wherever you are? I am not sure how much they charge but I do know there are some dedicated and professional midwives out there who travel all over the world to assist women who want to have home births.

    1. How do I find one of these midwives? I am determined to have the birth I've always pictured (this is my third baby), but I have a super-paranoid husband. I will give birth without him if I have to! Is there an underground group of freebirthers that I can connect to? I am in Alberta. Please reply here - I do not feel safe to publish my name or email address.

  6. Im in the same boat..3 days ago i took castor oil to induce my labour as i am over 38wks and live 1hour from a labour hospital. My hubby jumped the gun and while only having the first contraction drove me from Consort Alberts to Provost Alberta to give birth at the hospital. After driving around for 2 hours and contraction being 5min apart, i checked my self in at the hospital. I told them it was an low risk pregnancy & i have a high pain tolerance. I only wanted a natural birth. It was Sunday at 2pm..they proformed 3 cervix exam in the first hour(only 1 from my doctor) and wanted to keep checking my vitals every hour, hooking me up to 3 machines every time. Upto 5 nurses where in and out of my labouring room. When my doctor came in he was very supportive of my natual birthing plan & only said to notifie the nurse to notifie him once my body was ready. He told me i was 3cm & cervix where in the right direction. There was no peace. I would search out quiet areas in the hospital to labour, my room was not safe from nursung interruption. By 2am on Monday i was finally labouring for an hour of 5min apart contraction, 8 on the pain scale when on goes the light and i was told yet again that i would have to be checked. This was my 5th and last cervical exam. I asked if it was nessesary only to be met with hostility. She said she needed to know so she would let the next nurse change know. Shift change was still hours away. I agreed but she hurt me bad. She called it a toncil tickle. I beleive she was doing nembrane sweep with out my informed consent. I cried, my contraction stopped & i told her that what she did to me hurt more then all my contraction combined. I called my hubby to come pick me up & told the nurses that i was checking my self out. I was still having contraction but after seeing the blood in the toilet, on the bed and down my legs i knew i could stay another minute. I lied and said my contraction stopped..i left as soon as my hubby showed with out seeing a doctor first. It was horrible. I feel as if i was raped. 5 cervical exams making me bleed, vital checks every hour, being treated like an object with no repect for a labouring mother. Ive spent the last 2 days crying & my vag area still feels bruised. I have complained to the Alberta Health Board and ive also enformed them that i will now be doing an unassisted home birth because of what i went through. If they try to stop me i will just say i accidently laboured at home till it was to late to leave. I told my hubby he wont even know when im in labour cause ill hide it. Im almost 39 weeks and i feel empowered to know i dont have to go through that again..that the hospital is not the only way. I can and will birth my 3rd child on my own. Ive been practicing soaking in my clean bath tub, candles, light music and clean towels. I have a clean bowl for the plasenta, boiled butchers twine for the ombilical cord & good cissors. Ive watched all the videos on unassisted birth, freebirth/outlaw birth etc on youtube. Ive also done reseach on cord around the neck, cpr & bleeding. I feel im ready & i know ill cry tears of joy when im done. My body & my faith tells me this is right.


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