Preparing for Unassisted Childbirth

by Birth Without Fear on October 13, 2011

I’m going to start this post off with saying that I do not tell women to birth unassisted. I do not ‘promote it’ or recommend it as it’s not for most women. It is a very personal decision and one both mother and father need to educate themselves on, be united on and take responsibility for.

Once in a while, I receive an email asking about resources or more information about unassisted pregnancy and unassisted childbirth, also referred to as freebirth. This post is for mothers that are already considering birthing their child with just their family and support they choose present. Once again, this is a personal decision and I am not telling anyone to do so.

I remember when I first read about unassisted birth on the Mothering.com forums. I was shocked. A woman birthing without a doctor or midwife present?! That’s nuts! As I read more about UP/UC, I was intrigued. Here was an idea that women can birth on their own, without intervention, just as they were intended to do. Wait, is that so crazy? A healthy pregnancy, mom and baby. Educated and prepared parents. Willingness to get help/transfer if needed. Maybe not for everyone, but maybe for some.

I will admit it. I get nervous when women say they are going to birth unassisted. That’s right, I’ve had two unassisted births, but worry about other women who birth unassisted. Why? I don’t know them, if they are truly prepared, if they feel it’s the best and safest way for them to birth or if they are stuck on the ‘idea’ of UC. So, if you are thinking of having an unassisted birth, consider the following resources. Prepare yourself, take responsibility and be willing to get help or change course if needed. Also, every pregnancy, birth and baby are different, so even if UC is for one of your births, it may not be for another.

I support a woman’s right to choose a repeat cesarean, a hospital birth, a homebirth and everything in between. I also support her right to choose to birth unassisted. With ANY of these choices though, education and support are a must.

Consider the following when thinking about or preparing for an unassisted childbirth:

You can still have prenatal care with an OB or midwife or do your own prenatal care

Emergency Childbirth: A Manual by Gregory J. White, M.D.

Neonatal Resuscitation for yourself, partner and labor/birth support (this is good even if not planning an UC as it can still accidentally happen!)

Ultrasounds can be a good tool to check on baby’s position, fluids and to make sure there are no abnormalities or concerns you need to address or that would make unassisted birth unsafe

Read. There are birth stories, forums and books you can read to learn what will help and even what not to do!

Pray/meditate/instincts…do and listen often. If at anytime you feel something is off during pregnancy or labor, get help.

Unassisted birth can be one of the most raw and empowering experiences of a woman’s life if that is her choice…

Share/Bookmark

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Brittany A. October 13, 2011 at 3:03 pm

I love love love the look on dads face! :) So beautiful!

Reply

Brittany October 13, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Thank you thank you!!! After my free birth I had so many people think I felt like I was “better” than them because I chose it, or that I felt it was the only way. I’ve tried so hard to explain that it was best for me, for this birth. We were educated, prepared, and ready to transfer if necessary. I will never tell a mama to free birth, but I will help her educate and prepare if that’s the path she chooses.

You summed it up beautifully!

Reply

Gina October 13, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Well said I couldn’t agree more!

Reply

Kelly Graham October 13, 2011 at 3:32 pm

That picture is so moving…I want to blow it up frame it and put it in my office!!!!
Mrs BWF I love you and everything that you stand for….I think that if I had the choice….Im not sure that I would have chosen to become a Traditional Midwife…but as you know we are chosen by a larger power to empower women and babies…you are an amazing inspiration!!!! xoxoxo

Reply

Kristen October 13, 2011 at 5:47 pm

THANK YOU for this! I had an accidental freebirth on my bathroom floor. It was the easiest and most amazing birth I had but it really can happen to anyone and its GREAT to be prepared.

Reply

Shea October 13, 2011 at 8:39 pm

My Freebirth was an amazing and empowering experience almost 5 months ago. We came to the decision together after over a year of research before getting pregnant. It was my easiest birth and I am so glad that I felt it was the right decision for me. I try my best to raise awareness for home birth by sharing my story often. I do not recommend other women birth without an attendant unless that is their desire. It was the right decision for me, and for this baby, and my husband… but I’m not certain it would be right for our next birth if we choose to have another.

Reply

Venus October 13, 2011 at 9:23 pm

We chose to have an unassisted homebirth with our 2nd child. For years after our 1st I had planned having our next child in a birthing center. A homebirth of any type had never crossed my mind, despite the fact I was born at home, in a UA birth. Once I got pregnant, I had this constant nagging feeling, something inside me screaming that the hospitals & birthing centers were not right for us. And I just felt lost, I didn’t know what to do.

One night, it came to me. What I wanted was to be left alone. Was to give birth completely naturally with no distractions and no interventions. I wanted just my husband & son there. I wanted to just give birth at home. And it was like a weight was lifted. Like I knew that this was the solution for us. I was 4 months pregnant at the time, and my husband & I spent the rest of the pregnancy preparing to have a “do whatever we feel is best at the time” birth, with a preference to stay home and let my body do it’s job.

Reply

Cera May 14, 2014 at 10:35 am

I completely feel the same way. I have a great support group around me, but sometimes I’m not sure they “get it”… I’m glad I’m not the only one who just knows this is the right choice :)

Reply

Denise October 13, 2011 at 9:45 pm

If my husband an I decide to have more children we are faced with having a free birth due to the lack of home birth midwives in our area. Post like this really help me be informed about it. I love that picture also its amazing!

Reply

ulrike October 13, 2011 at 9:51 pm

this photo is amazing.

Reply

Christy October 21, 2011 at 9:47 pm

We have four sons, and have had a gradual progression of less interference at our births. I wanted a homebirth with our first, but didn’t know any homebirth midwives and never even thought of UC. So, I went to a birth center instead, and do have a few complaints about the experience, but it was certainly far less interfered with than a hospital birth would be. Next, I had a homebirth with a very hands-off wonderful midwife, and my husband caught our baby. Next, I encountered UC online and was very drawn to it. I had the same midwife as before and told her I might wait until after the birth to call her. As it turned out, we did call her during labor, but birth was imminent and so she arrived maybe 45 minutes after the birth. She laughed when my husband called her when I was in transition and said she didn’t think she’d be there in time, but we knew what to do. It was fantastic, and our last birth was a planned UC and I also did my own prenatal care. I studied a lot about what to do in the rare event of a complication. None occurred, but I wanted to be prepared just in case. I feel the same way in that I think only those really drawn to UC should do so, and hopefully they prepare as well and are low risk. I am low risk and felt very safe to UC. Other than my interfered with first birth, I’ve had no complications, and my babies are always born very quickly as my body pushes them out. In our society which teaches a fear of birth, I really feel that most women benefit in many ways from having a midwife present, and I firmly believe women and babies would be far better off if our hospitals used a midwifery model of care. For some though, UC is a wonderful way to birth and I’m very thankful to have been able to do so.

Reply

Melissa November 1, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Amazing photo. Love all the love and expression captured. I had a homebirth with my second, such an amazing experience. :)

Reply

Sherry November 22, 2011 at 1:47 pm

I had a dream last night that I had an unassisted birth and gave birth to triplets, 2 boys and a girl… I didn’t want the dream to end!

I don’t know if I’ll have any more children, but if I did, I would consider this. I’m surprised that everyone does not at least consider it! I’ve used midwives in the past, but midwives can be few and far between… Finding one can be a near impossible task.

Beautiful photo, by the way!! :)

Reply

Melissa January 4, 2012 at 7:54 pm

I am a doula and heard of UC when I was pregnant with my son, before becoming a doula. I have to say at the time I thought that was nuts. Now, having a cesarean that I feel I was bullied into, and seeing how the “birth machine” works on a regular basis. I totally get it and am about 95% there myself. Maybe not for the next, as I would hope it would be a HBAC, but maybe for the one after? My main draw to it is that you don’t have anyone in the room who is bound by regulation to interfere with the process. I totally understand the healthcare providers side of things, but, for me, I think it would be my only way to truly “birth without fear”.

Reply

Kathryn January 4, 2012 at 8:42 pm

I’m all done having children, but love anything to do with babies. I’m not sure that I would have ever have had the courage to do UC, but it’s good to know that there is support out there for women who choose to do this. I remember when I was young, my parent’s next door neighbor’s daughter, had 2 unassisted home births, neither one was intentional! I’m not sure her husband ever got over the shock, lol

Reply

Michelle January 4, 2012 at 10:09 pm

I appreciate these resources. I am not planning a UC, though I like the idea of it, I’m not sure it’s for us, at this time. However, my first homebirth was only a 4.5 hour labor. With a second (planning on TTC within the year) I am concerned about a MW getting there in time (especially since I have moved and am now much farther than my previous mw was). I want to be fully prepared and confident in the event that it happens to be a UC. Just seems like a wise thing to do.

Reply

Kimberlee February 4, 2012 at 2:18 pm

After the birth of my 4th baby almost 3 years ago, I decided on going unassisted next time! I have easy pregnancies, and even easier births. My last home water birth was after only 2.5 hours of labor! Although we’re not expecting yet, both hubby and I are prepared to bring our baby earthside UA when the time comes. I know it will be a truly amazing, empowering experience that I’ll be honored to have :)

Reply

Martha March 20, 2012 at 4:46 pm

I had two unassisted births without a trained midwife there, and I had complications that resulted from simple errors, that could have been different if I had known or if I had had a trained person there to deal with the complications. Instead, I had a very hard recovery and long term issues because of it. I think that if you truly desire privacy and free birthing, use wisdom and education. Please don’t feel bad if you need help, things that are simple can become complicated when we don’t know what we are doing sometimes. We can trust our bodies, but there are times that they betray us as well.

Reply

Sarah March 6, 2014 at 8:25 pm

Hi Martha,

Thank you so much for sharing. I am researching the possibility of have an unassisted birth myself and am still not sure if it is the right choice for me.

May I ask what complications you had and how that affected your recovery? You can use my personal email to reply if you feel up for it.

thank you again for sharing! Blessings to you.

Sarah

Reply

Angie April 4, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Hey, the amazing woman in that photo was my doula for my first three births and is now my midwife for my current pregnancy. So excited to have her at our birth, any day now! BWF thanks for this post and all you do. I have learned so much from you and the BWF community over this past year. I feel very blessed to have such a wealth of knowledge and support so accessible.

Reply

christie April 4, 2012 at 6:00 pm

i had a very short labour with my recent VBAC so ive told my husband that i would like to be prepared for a home birth/unassisted birth next time around just in case. if i hadnt had a brief moment of loss of control when i did we could have had one this time, but when that happened i thought i have to go, my waters broke about 5 minutes after walking into hospital and he was born an hour later, i had no idea my baby was so close! i did love my midwives though and the OB (public hospital in AUS) was the one who signed off on my birthplan and was excellent, she never touched me despite being a VBAC and having mec staining in the waters 2 things that would normally mean interventions. im hoping next time i can catch my own baby even if it is in hospital i can imagine anything more amazing :)

Reply

Shannon Duffey April 16, 2012 at 2:04 pm

What a wonderful post! As a doula and someone who has attended Holistic Midwifery training, I do have some recommendations for resources for those considering a UC or free birth. As far as neonatal resuscitation classes go, I HIGHLY recommend Karen Strange as a teacher. She teaches the entire curriculum, as well as teaching that birth is set up to happen as if nobody is around. She puts a very level headed spin on this class, and teaches her students to remain calm, grounded and connected if help is needed. She teaches about the experience from the baby’s perspective as well, which I find compassionate and helpful. Reading resources are Holistic Midwifery volume 1 and 2 by Anne Frye. These are large volumes, full of a lot of knowledge and backed by extensive research. Volume 1 is about Pregnancy care, Volume 2 is about Birth and Postpartum.

Reply

Amber May 21, 2012 at 8:51 pm

My son’s father and I were the only ones present at my son’s birth. We bought an inflatable kiddie pool and birth supply kit on inhishands.com and really that was it. I did do lots of online reading/research about possible complications during an unassisted birth, so as to be aware of any signs that would indicate needing to go to hospital. As beautiful and amazing as Salvatore’s birth was, it was fairly easy, according to everyone else, lol, and very “uneventful”. My labour was 15 hours and it was started by love-making. He was a week late, born on my brother’s 26th birthday. I just listened to my body and did my best to rest during labour, in between my contractions which were 3 minutes apart and a minute and a half long for quite some time( I kind of lost any sense of time during my labour, I just know what time it really got started and what time my son was born). By the way, YOU and the BWF community are pretty much the biggest reason I decided to stay home and do things the way I did. I actually told myself at one point it would just be more convenient to go to hospital, and made myself physically sick with the thought of it. Once I said NOPE NO HOSPITAL, and I bought my pool and supply kit, I felt 100% better and completely confident about having my son at home!

Reply

Kira March 7, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Thats beautiful!. We are due to have our baby mid to late July 2013 and want to do a home water birth. I am researching as much as i can to prepare myself for this birth. I want so much to do this with just my husband present and maybe a doula. I have considered a midwife but feel it may not be necessary. reading your story gives me hope :)

Reply

Emily Jimenez May 22, 2012 at 5:00 am

Thank you for sharing this. My husband and I are very seriously considering a free birth this time around and I have had such a hard time figuring out where to start. I am grateful for today’s post because it helped to motivate me to get started and get educated! :)

Reply

Faith May 22, 2012 at 9:07 am

Wonderful! I keep reading things about UC and thinking, “I know some fabulous women who have had well-researched and successful UCs, but that’s not for me, personally”… and then I remember that I had one. Always happens, lol. We were very educated and prepared for a slightly assisted homebirth, and I plan to become a CPM one day so I have read a lot of midwifery materials, which is a good thing as I certainly wasn’t up to researching anything mid-labor. Baby just decided he was on his own timetable and FLEW out to meet us before the midwife or her assistants arrived. Feeling educated and comfortable with what happens in most births helped me to remain very calm generally, and he was born without incident, despite being posterior with (as far as I can tell, since no one was looking) a nuchal hand. Whoo-wee. The midwives showed up about 8 minutes later.

Reply

Julie May 22, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Awesome. My husband and I are taking a be prepared and see what happens approach to our next birth. Our options quickly became very limited until UC was the only thing left we were comfortable with. I am very excited about it! We’ve had midwives for our last 2 births which was wonderful, but I’ve always wanted to just be alone with my hubby. Thanks for the resources!

Reply

Marla Davis July 3, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Great insight and information. Oh, how I wish I had had access to information like this when I first started having babies. I don’t know if I would have done unassisted, but I sure would have loved the idea and the opportunity to have explored it.

This photo has to be one of the best birth images I’ve ever seen! What a great moment. Amazing.

Reply

Valerie July 4, 2012 at 5:27 pm

I really enjoyed reading this! I am thankful to see such encouragement for mothers, we NEED it in this Dr. driven world. I love hearing about all these birth stories and it only encourages me to continue my search for a midwife that will be there if I choose to deliver at home (and one that my insurance will pay for would be great). Thank you so much for sharing.

Reply

amy September 29, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Women are POWERFUL! Sends chills up my spine.

Reply

Kelly October 1, 2012 at 5:59 pm

I’m expecting my first in February. I was thinking of doing a birth center birth, but I wasn’t quite comfortable with even the limited amount of intervention/limitation that that option presented. Then I was turned down for Medicaid so that settled that! We’re doing a home birth now and are thinking of doing it unassisted. Has anyone here ever had a unassisted birth for their first child? I’d really love to hear about your experiences.

Reply

Sarah Morgan May 28, 2014 at 2:11 pm

I birthed my first unassisted – i knew from the beginning that it was the right choice for me & my partner was always supportive. It was the most amazing, empowering experience of my life and i am so grateful. Our second was unassisted as well. both stories are on my website! A bot late for a reply I suppose – by now you mist have had your baby!

Reply

Julie December 7, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Just wanted to update. We had our son at home alone after 1 hour 45 minutes of labor. It was amazing. I don’t remember it being painful. The picture of my husband holding our son in his arms for the first time is burned into my mind forever. He talks about it at least once a week. UC was definitely the right choice for us!!!!

Reply

Chrissie Hayden April 22, 2013 at 4:58 pm

That photo gives me chills. The mama, the daddy… so perfect. Thank you for the links and the help. I am pg with #3 and seeking an unssisted birth for the first time. I needed info for my husband and I to go over. Much appreciated!

Reply

Jessica serrano April 24, 2013 at 10:21 pm

Hey everyone thank u for the support of a decision of a natural homebirth it has always Been a desire of mine to do one especially now that I am on a decision of having my lasts edition to the family. My experiences in the hospitals were much more crucial and emotionaly aggravating. Even though it was ok. But I really felt that the hospital criteria didn’t fit me at all.so I never realty felt that instant happyness connection. I was to tired physically and emotionally to really enjoy a remarkable moment in a transition into motherhood as I hoped it would be. But now in the process of my final edition. I want it to be n everlasting in pact in my life of being given the opportunity that I have been given one more time. I’m not high risk or anything like that. I haven’t had any complications in my experiences inbirthing with previous pregnancy other then the doctors thinking they know what’s best for me other then a standard statistical view. N I don’t like that because I’m not a standard woman. When I know my body because I live in it and not them.

Reply

Dominique May 25, 2013 at 7:27 pm

Beautifully said… the picture is awesome. So empowering.

Reply

Cheyenne DeGuise November 16, 2013 at 9:25 pm

So how exactly did you prepare? What books did you read or techniques did you learn? I am very much interested in a UC, I see a CNM for my prenatal care right now but that doesn’t allow me to birth at home like I want. I planned to educates myself, make sure everything goes well through the pregnancy (so far so good 20 weeks) and then just birth at home in water and call the paramedic to go to the hospital after since I haven’t found a midwife that will do pro-bono. I would like to avoid the hospital all-in-all. I just need to be pointed in the right direction.

Reply

RJ June 25, 2014 at 6:23 pm

I am very interested in UC and my husband is very supportive as well, my biggest concern is the lack of information I’ve been able to find on the cord! How long to cut it, how long to wait…. (we don’t want to go the lotusbirth route but do want jr to get all he or she needs from the placenta!) any advice for me there?

Reply

Ty June 29, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Wait until cord has stopped pulsating and is limp and white.

Reply

Fortunata July 10, 2014 at 6:05 pm

My friend just had one where she put the placenta in a bowl until the cord was white and there was no need to clamp or tie it.
I plan on having some on hand but only use them if absolutely necessary. :)

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: