An Open Discussion: Unassisted Childbirth

During the  comment discussions on Birth Without Fear’s blog post, A License to Rape, unassisted birth came up and a conversation started. I stopped the discussion for a few reasons. The most important being that it was taking away from the importance of the topic…birth rape.

I want to offer a place for a respectable conversation about unassisted pregnancy and childbirth (also referred to as unhindered birth or freebirth). There have recently been many questions about UP/UC on our Facebook page and I know many  mamas are interested in it, as it seems so different than the mainstream way of birthing. Please share your experiences, ask questions, share information, etc. Every mama is different, so every pregnancy and birth, even if unassisted is different. We can all learn a lot from one another, then do what is best for us.

Just remember to keep it respectful. Our blog has always had rules that include no personal attacking, name calling or use of foul language. If you want your comment posted, please keep that in mind. This can be a great resource and a wonderful discussion!

Unassisted birth is not for everyone. I personally never recommend UC, because I know it is a very personal decision that requires a lot of thought (prayer), working through fears, educating oneself, having the right support and taking complete responsibility. Every woman needs to birth where she feels comfortable and safe.


*If you haven’t seen your comment come up, it’s just because I have not been on to approve it. Be patient as I am pregnant and taking care of 4 amazing, beautiful children during the day.


  • Krista

    I have not had an unassisted birth as you may already know from my birth story :D, but after my birth experience I totally could have done it unassisted. I’m considering it for my next one (which, considering my LO is 8 weeks will be a long ways away), because I know that I can definitely do it and I figure why pay money when I can do it just fine on my own? haha!
    However, I do know a lot about birth. I was privileged enough to be a nursing assistant in a maternity unit for 4 years (I say privileged because it taught me a lot. I don’t work there now because it was too frustrating). I know what to look for in the case that something does go wrong. Finding the right balance may be hard. I’d suggest doing research on normal birth complications (ones not caused by medical intervention), but you don’t want to scare yourself because an easy labor is all in your head. If you are fearless, you’ll have an easier labor. I believe that if you know enough, you can have a safe unassisted birth. You don’t have to work in Maternity to learn what I’ve learned. The information is very easy to get a hold of. Although the chance of a life threatening situation arising is very low, in the case that it does happen, you want to know what to do.

  • Meghan S

    I found my path to UC through an internship oddly enough. I had never known or thought of UC birth until I became a Rent Tent coordinator for my local BOLD group. A main organizer had just given birth to her 4th child, and had a UC. She shared in a calm and matter-of-fact manner the story of how she came to UC. Overbearing midwives that had tried to direct her first birth lead her to find another way. By her 4th birth, she simply went out to the garage and came back in a little later with her son. This calm, no fuss birth appealed to me on a deep level! Fast forward about a years and a half, I am pregnant with my first child and I know that UC is right for me, it is what my baby and I need for our birth. With a lot of time, love and information (not to mention his nursinf OB clinical rotation) my husband was on board. Then at 41 weeks, 4 days my labor began. It was fast and productive, my daughter coming still in her sac (must have had a small leak). We now more than ever trust birth, my body and any future babies (fingers crossed) that we may be happy to welcome. The only thing we plan to change in future births… Daddy will not be in the shower. My full birth story can be read here:

  • cassandra

    My third baby was born unassisted. it was my safest and most wholesome birthing experience. It was the only birth where neither my child nor myself were harmed.
    My first birth was a c-section that left me broken for weeks while trying to be a first time mom.
    My second was a vbac that to this day my son doesn’t grow hair in 3 different spots where they jabbed him with an internal foetal monitor. I had a 3rd degree tear from pushing on my back that made sex impossible for well over 6 months post partum and my doctor yanked on the cord so he had to stick his arm inside of my vagina to retrieve the placenta.
    I don’t think unassisted is something most of us take lightly. I will be a midwife in the future and I was very comfortable with my level of knowledge and my spouse’s that should a problem arise we could make the right choices for my body and my baby.
    The bottom line for me is that I gave the “hospital system” two tries and when I took my birth into my own hands and trusted my body to work as God made it to I succeeded triumphantly.
    The first birth I had was the normal american one and I got the normal american birth which is sadly about a 40% c-section rate. The second I was armed to the teeth with knowledge but when your told you have to birth by this date within x amount of hours or you will be sectioned again you get pretty desperate.
    I think there is a lot of wisdom in seeking out a midwife if that is what you are comfortable with. Make sure she shares your values. Make sure birth is her passion. Make sure she believes in you. Make sure she isn’t a control freak. Make sure to trust your gut because in picking a midwife and in labor your gut will tell you if something just isn’t quite right. Make sure it is she who has to prove herself to you and NOT you having to prove your body works right for her.

  • Kristi

    I was going to write a comment, short and sweet, but it ended up being quite long so I made it a blog post of my own ( I am a UCer and I would love to get involved in this conversation. 🙂 My story doesn’t originate with birth rape or even necessarily the experiences I had in the hospital with my first two children, but our decision to UC was a really big deal for us. It changed us as a family and it changed my relationship with my husband. We don’t consider those that don’t UC as uneducated… we consider those who are uneducated as uneducated. haha I could birth in a hospital, at home, birthing center, with an attendant or not and I would be and I am educated… where we birth or our views on other forms of birthing doesn’t determine our education… it’s what we know and understand regarding these forms that determines that. There are women I talk to who are completely informed and choose to do things completely different than we would. I may not agree with them, but that doesn’t mean they are not educated. There are also women I talk to who don’t seem to understand what I’m talking about – as if I’m speaking in another language. These women are programmed in what they have come to know… not necessarily by an outside source but for me (if you read my blog post), I was programmed into thinking a certain way based on what I knew (breech equals c-section based on the birth videos I watched for instance). There is a very important distinction between the two. 🙂 There’s my two cents for now… haha

  • Jen

    I had an unassisted birth with my 3rd and last child. It was the most wonderful, fast, and peaceful birthing experience of the three. All were 100% natural, midwife and doula assisted, but not the last. After I gave birth the second time, and the midwife said, “You really didn’t need me here at all.” I thought, well, if I have another, I won’t have anyone but my Chiropractor husband, someone to watch the kids, and a friend who wanted to watch and help out. I did have a midwife appointment, just one, at the end, to make sure I was in good shape, baby’s head was down, and see if she would be on call if we needed advice. She was wonderful and got the birth certificate for me, and gave advice, immediately following the birth, over the phone to get the placenta out. So, when I say it was “unassisted” I was definitely not alone, but I loved it that way. I have many friends who go it alone completely and from child number one. All empowering experiences. Laura Kaplan Shanley is our inspiring birth hero.

  • Holly Wilson

    I know that UP is not for me. No doubts or questions there, but I am considering UC. Through reading things on this website and facebook page among others, I have come to trust my body in the process of birth and am comfortable with a homebirth and comfortable with a UC. Here’s my question ladies: How do you convince a doubtful husband. During my last pregnancy, I used to joke that my husband wouldn’t let me lift anything heavier than a sandwich. HOw on earth can I convince him I’ll be ok giving birth without anyone there to “help” me?

    • Jessica

      Honestly, I told my husband that while I respect his position, he should realize that I have to birth the baby and I will be the one who is left with feeling let down and abused if things went wrong. That he should trust that I would never do anything to put my baby in danger and that I have researched my options extensively.
      We are still in pre-TTC mode and I am just grabbing at any knowledge I can, but I have already told him that our next one will be born at home maybe with a mid-wife maybe not. He wasnt thrilled, but has come around to discussing it.

    • kari


      With my last pregancy we were seeing a CPM and planning another HBAC. I finally had enough of the midwife’s fears dictating the pregnancy and birth planning and enough of my husband’s fears dictating the pregnancy and birth planning. In the car driving home from a prenatal appointment I burst into tears and when my husband asked what was wrong I told him that I was just so tired of other people’s fears controlling MY body. He got it! He understood that he could not control and, even though he wanted to so badly, could not remove every risk from my life or from our baby’s life. He let go of the control.

      Then we began talking about his concerns and educating him on what to do in the “what if” situations.

      I also let him know that I didn’t expect him to be responsible for the birth. I firmly believe that a higher power (I call it God) and the baby are really in control and I’m just a conduit of sorts to bring another spirit here.

      I guess for me the issue was not convincing my husband to help me, but to help me by getting out of the way.

  • Katie

    I myself have also had a freebirth. Like you I do not recommend them to others, they need to want it. If others get to that place where they want one I am more than willing to talk about it and let them know where to start and what to read and supplies needed. But if you are not willing or dont want to research birth I wouldn’t UC. And just because I UC’d one baby doesnt mean I would do it everytime. I would take it one birth at a time and “feel” it out and then decide. I dont think I could ever UP. I am not against those who do but with my history (two cesareans) I will always get one ultrasound (dont need more than that) to see where the placenta is and to make sure it is not grown into my scar and I would like to know that baby is healthy. I feel that if I am UCing it is my responcibilty to try and have it go as smoothly as possible and to me that means having an ultrasound to see that everything is in its proper place, to others that is not the same. I dont like when people talk about UCers like we are “diehard freaks” who would rather kill their baby than go to the hospital. The hospital for transport was ALWAYS an option. If I felt the need to go in or if something was not going right we would have transfered. We want what is healthy for mom and babe as much as those who are going to the hospital. In fact we did transfer with my third child. It wasnt necessary but at the time that is what we did, of course I look back and wish we wouldnt have but hind site is 20/20 and I would rather be “safe than sorry”.

    Thanks for having this discussion!

  • Shayna

    Holly- Have him talk to other UC Dads. My husband, who was slightly scared and in denial about the whole thing,, quickly transformed to confidence and elation once he caught that baby! (I was on hands and knees) Any dads who’ve done it can’t help but love it. And that kind of elation can be pretty contagious. I know My husband shares his joy with everyone willing to listen!

    For us UP was an essential part of our UC. It brought me closer to my husband, closer to my baby, and most importantly closer to myself! Being able to find the heart beat myself and feel the baby’s position was soo cool! I could always tell what position baby was in (something i’d never been able to do before). It was a really connecting process. Husband would measure my fundas and we would laugh at the inaccuracy of it. SO many fun nights playing with our baby in utero. It was the perfect set up for our very intimate and connected freebirth. I always tell people, I woke up, had baby, and went back to sleep. And that’s honestly about it. Plus some really awesome bonding momments that I’d never experienced with either of my also natural, midwife attended, births.

    I too, don’t recommend it often, because it’s too personal of a choice. But I like to share my joy and maybe get people thinking. If I encourage someone to just go home and say, “Hey Honey, I met the craziest lady today”(or whatever) that’s all I want. Cuz they’ll be talking and that’s something you can’t get out of your head. I know I couldn’t. Most important thing to me in talking with others, is that they know they have options. That’s the beautiful part, You choose!

    • Meghan S

      “I too, don’t recommend it often, because it’s too personal of a choice. But I like to share my joy and maybe get people thinking. If I encourage someone to just go home and say, “Hey Honey, I met the craziest lady today”(or whatever) that’s all I want. Cuz they’ll be talking and that’s something you can’t get out of your head. I know I couldn’t. Most important thing to me in talking with others, is that they know they have options. That’s the beautiful part, You choose!”

      This is why I love to share my story! Like you said call me crazy or a hippie.. but at least you are thinking now, and that is all that I really want. For people to think, to seek out information to make informed choices for them and their babies, the first time. Not as a reaction to a “bad birth” experience.

    • Lia

      I just want to say thank you to all the women who feel comfortable with these kinds of discussions. I personally have no kids at this point but my husband and I are planning on having some in the next couple years so I am taking this time to research what I want so when I find out I’m pregnant I will be ready. I feel like in today’s world there is this taboo with talking about birth and anything related to it so it creates this mystery and media has corrupted this wonderful experience by showing worst case scenarios alone making birth a frightening experience. I will say that I was scared of birth till I met my husband who loves kids. I started to research other way to have birth and through websites like this I now look forward to this experience. I am very lucky to have an open and understanding husband as well as an open and understanding mother who have helped me look into natural births. So I just wanted to say thank you for helping people like me open my eyes to better possibilities. It makes a bigger impact than you may think in just sharing these personal experiences. At this time I am looking into have a water birth with a doula and/or midwife most likely at home but possibly at a center. I will have only my husband and mother there besides the doula/midwife. Once again thank you to all the wonderful mamas for sharing.

  • martina

    I believe you can have a freebirth or unhindred with a midwife! her presence doesnt mean she will be interfering!
    I have to admitt that I was a bit unconforatble when I read Miranda’s comment who says ” uc mom are setting an example for the rest of us”.I don’t have any regrets about both of my birth ( who were assisted) but every time I hear “oh but to prepare for my UC I have educate myself, I trust my body, I am fearless…ect” it makes me feel like many woman(not just UC moms) consider it being the ultimate birth, and by thinking that take away from the other moms ( who were assisted).
    By justifying their choice, UC moms make it sounds like the rest of us aren’t educated(or at least not as much) that we blindly trust or doctors or midwives, that we are fearfull( hence the need of a care provider).That UC is the ONLY real ,spiritual,fearless, unhindred,absolute birth experience, and that unless you have one, you don’t fully understand the power of birth!
    I could care less how other moms deliver, but I trully feel like there is a unspoken, grading level of everyone birth experience, and UC IS the A+ of births.
    I wasn’t able to really put my finger on it until Miranda post her comment, that’s when it all came clear to me!

    • Mrs. BWF

      Well, I know for me, I have never said UC is the only or ultimate way or that you are only educated if you have an UC. I have always said each women needs to be educated, but with that comes deciding what is best for her and her baby. That is going to different for everyone and I respect that completely. 🙂 For me, the only way to have an empowering, wonderful birth was to UC, but I know that is ME and I don’t put that on anyone else. Ever.

    • LivandLex

      It is a very lucky woman indeed who can find a care provider who will be hands off enough not to interfere with the process.

      I don’t think ALL women who choose assisted birth are uneducated. I know only that I was. I did blindly trust my doctor.

      I think its wonderful that when a mother can have a gentle empowering assisted birth. But just like UC that option is not for everyone or for every birth.

    • Holly Wilson

      Reading the same things you are reading, I can understand how you might come to that conclusion but I don’t think that is the intent behind them. I truly believe that Mrs. BWF at least and most likely many others want women to feel comfortable in birthing their babies and if a OBGYN or GP or midwife gives you that level of security and comfort, then you should have them at your birth.

      • Mychel

        I think the perfect scenario for birth would be to have a support person who is educated enough to handle an emergency but be so respectful of the birth process that they never interfere unless absolutely necessary and if this could occur in a hospital, then great, although I am a huge fan of being home. For every 1 out there that is like this, there are hundreds who are not. For my VBAC, especially hearing all the horror stories and what if’s, it would have been nice to be in a place where I could get the emergency care I needed if rupture occurred but still be respected. After seeing 3 different practices, I realized there was no way I would be respected and that they viewed birth as a disease…. one MW even made this very clear by comparing me to a heart attack patient… a ticking time bomb. So i got pushed into my UC but once I was in it, it felt right and I was committed to trusting birth, baby, self and God to see it through. I had peace for the first time in that pregnancy. For me, being home and relying on myself, which I consider myself to be well educated in birth, was the best and safest option. I admire women who can go to the hospital and fight for what they want. I was envious of women who have access to OB’s or MW’s who are respectful of birth and you as a person. I didn’t have any of that so my path led me to UC and it was a great, empowering, healing experience.
        I don’t flat out suggest it to others. I talk about it when mentioned and I defend it when someone has something negative to say, like my grandmother being told that it was one of the stupidest and unsafe things I could have done being a VBAC. Each woman has to choose what is best for them and then live with the outcome. Deep down i do get upset if people choose something completely different than I would but I remind myself that they have a right to choose and I need to respect that. I was once naive about birth practices and I don’t want to see people suffer like I did. I have no problems with women making choices as long as they are fully informed decisions… flying off at the mouth and not knowing what you’re talking about is a whole other thing.

    • Joyful_Momma

      “I believe you can have a freebirth or unhindred with a midwife! her presence doesnt mean she will be interfering!”

      I agree. I’ve had three homebirths with a midwife and 5 hospital births. Only 1 of the hospital births was even moderately good. With my last two homebirths the midwife didn’t do anything except be there. I know there are midwives out there that are very hands on but not all are.

      I won’t UC myself. My husband is too worried. He’s gotten better (our 5th baby was supposed to be UC but he ended up calling an ambulance and I went to the hospital) I know that it is my body and all but I can’t disregard his feelings either. He is fine hb’ing as long as there is a mw ‘just in case’. Thankfully, I have a great mw who doesn’t bother me with cervical checks or other nonsense.

      • Nicole

        I think what so many of us are forgetting is that the simply act of being observed changes things. Even if your midwife/ob is absolutely hands off, they are still there. Modern science has proven that by simply watching something, we effect it’s actions.

        This is not to say that being observed is inherenty bad or negative, simply that it DOES change things. For a woman who wants to experience her birth with no interferences, this is a fact we must remember. For a woman who wants to experience her birth as calm and peaceful, being observed won’t necessarily change this.

        Observing is interfering, but it is not necessarily disturbing.

    • Alyssa

      My second birth was a hb with a community midwife. Because she was there writing everything, I did not listen to my body. She didnt technically do anything to interfere, she was just there and a lovely person, but it still affected my headspace. I started pushing after only 2 hours of being in labour, and when I did, I panicked and called, “It’s too soon! I’m pushing!!” and she said, “It’s ok, do what you need to do.” Which was good, but I feel had I been on my own, I wouldn’t have been thinking about the time, and would have just trusted what my body was doing. When I read thru Laura’s unassisted birth website, it dawned on me, when she says that even a lovely, supportive midwife CAN hinder your headspace without meaning to.
      We are in our pre-TTC stage for our third baby, and this time, I want to go unassisted. I think someone else already mentioned the effect of uc on your relationship with your husband and family. That is something I want to have, this beautiful, almost secret special experience with my husband and boys. I have birthed 2 children naturally, and with no issues, I am confident that I can do this on my own, although with minimal antenatal checks to make sure everything is in the right spots. In this pre-TTC stage, I am making some changes, we have started on 8 months pre-conception care, with healthy diet, exercise, yoga, etc.. so our bodies are well prepared to conceive a healthy bubbi. I think this preparation is important for me as it will be my fourth pregnancy (I lost my last at 8 weeks 1 month ago and have taken it as a sign that my body needs to be healthier.).
      I am so excited to freebirth, there are a lot of naysayers in my family, so I will just tell them we are booked into such and such hospital, (which we are, we just don’t plan to birth there…) which also means I will have proof of pregnancy etc.
      Also I don’t think UC is the A+ of births, and I don’t think those who UC think that they are either, or mean it to come across like that, it’s just the best option for them and however you CHOOSE to birth should be because it’s what YOU want, not what your dr wants, or your midwife, or your husband, or your mum. YOUR body, YOUR birth, YOUR choice.

  • Camilla

    My husband and I have just decided to go with a home birth and have found a good midwife, but we aren’t sure where we’ll dig up the money to pay her. I almost wish I could have it both ways. With a UP/UC do you have someone to back you up for the just in case? How do your families react, or do you just not tell them? We are TTC and I want to do what is best for me and my family, but at the same time I do have some fears. Financial might be the biggest but I don’t think saving money should be the reason for this decision. I’ve already had a hard enough time convincing family that it’s okay that we’re planning a HB.

    • kari

      For me the back-up was what I didn’t feel was necessary or even helpful to the birthing process.

      I had two previous birth experiences (one with an OB – traditional American birth experience; and one with a CPM at home) and both involved decisions being made that benefited the care provider but were not in my best interests or the best interests of the babies.

      If I could find a care provider who had the ability and courage to make decisions based exclusively on what was best for me or my baby I’d consider another assisted birth. Unfortunately I believe that in my state even midwives now consider malpractice and act in ways to “win” a possible suit. Decisions are not made on what is best for the individual birthing mother or the baby.

      That said, we are about a 3 minutes drive from a nearby ER and would always seek medical attention if I or my child needed it!

      I don’t believe birth by default requires medical assistance. Sometimes there are birth complications that do necessitate medical assistance and we’re not adverse to using them if the situation requires them.

      As for family reaction, I’m of an age (43) where I don’t seek to gain approval or acceptance. 😉 My mother-in-law is now 80 and my parents are well into their 60s. In fact, when I was pregant with my second child (at the age 0f 37) I was told by my parents that “they didn’t ask for more grandchildren.” Their vote just doesn’t matter. And, in the end, it’s not THEIR body involved.

      Why do you need the approval of others in decisions involving your body? Are they your keeper? (not meant as a judgment, but food for thought)

    • Shayna

      With our Up/Uc we had a great lay midwife willing to come in at any point. Not all midwifes are comfortable with this, Look around. And of course you can always transfer to a hospital, most Uc’ers have a hospital on stand by i think. Correct me if i’m wrong,, but I think that’s pretty standard.

      Whether or not to tell your family is very personal. Some people do, some can’t. I told my family and then forbid them all from saying anything negative. They all respected us enough that if they were opposed, they never let on. It depends on the family. And some people do Uc because of money at first. It might not end up that it’s the driving/only motivator, but it can often be one of the first. I’ll admit it was the spark for us. Of course, other motivators quickly follow.
      Just my 2cents.

  • LivandLex

    I am preparing for the birth of my 3rd child which will be my first UC. I love all of the preparation and learning that I have done to make myself prepared for the upcoming birth. I finally feel like I have all of the information I should have had sought out years ago. When I had my first birth I definitely had the mentality that the doctors knew best and would take good care of me. When I didn’t see a doctor at all until baby was nearly all the way out I realized this might not have been the case at all. My second experience was much like the first,being told that I had to wait when baby was clearly coming now!, and having a GP rush in at the last second to catch my baby who did not want to wait for an OB. While not at all traumatic both experiences were very unfulfilling and left me feeling more detached than I thought I should be. Not to mention that the presence of a doctor in both of these births was clearly not necessary.

    Taking all of the responsibility onto myself this time around to learn and be prepared has made me feel very empowered and I am very much looking forward to and excited about birthing this baby in my own home where I am most comfortable and uninhibited and surrounded only by those who really love me and support my decision.

    I also agree with the others that I would never recommend UC to anyone as I feel it really is a decision that must be come to freely and it should not be something entered into due to a feeling of lack of options. I really think that if it is truly to be as safe as it can be that the mother must not feel cooerced.

    I appreciate that Mrs. BWF has opened up a discussion on this topic because many women in the process of planning and preparing for a UC feel that they must guard their privacy. Comments about how it is selfish to put the birth experience above the safety of the baby are quite common (and assanine!!… these people really think they care more about the safety of my baby than I do???) when people hear about my choice to UC. In the beginning I found these comments hurtful but now I am quite comfortable with the fact that I am not being selfish at all. I am prepared and I am educated and planning a UC does not mean that I will not seek out help if and when I feel I need it.

    • kari

      I felt like cheering out loud when I read your last paragraph!

      While I feel that UC is the right choice and most responsible choice for me and my children, it might not be the best choice for others.

      The decision process for me involved logical intellectual thought and discussion as well as spiritual study.

      Some women are able to find care providers to assist in a safe birth and that is the best choice for them. Other women feel safest with medical technology nearby and that could well be the best choice for those women.

      For me, I’ve learned that my body works most effectively when I’m alone. In fact, for much of the last birth I secluded myself upstairs and was totally alone while I labored. I needed that solitude to allow my body to work and to communicate effectively with my daughter.

      The birth is as much about her as it is about me. After all, it wasn’t MY birth – it was HER birth.

      Many people think I chose to UC in reaction to others. That I was avoiding other types of birth. That’s partially true. But it was also about allowing my daughter the birth that was right for her.

      I firmly believe that our birth shapes who we are and what we will do with our lives. Whenever I can I want to get out of the way and let my children live their own lives. Birth is part of that journey.

  • HeatherJ

    I stumbled upon UC really. My first baby was born in a military hospital. I was uneducated and unsupported. I thought that they would only suggest to intervene if something was really wrong. I had no clue I should have to defend myself against people who say they are there to help me in the medical community. I wasn’t willing to fight during pregnancy, labor, and birth. I chose to have a homebirth the next time. My midwife didn’t make it to my house until five minutes before my baby came out. The birth healed me and gave me the confidence I had been lacking at the beginning of motherhood.

    When we were transferred out of the area away from that midwife, I was nervous about having another attendant. I wanted another birth like the one I had with my second-born, not a repeat of the first. When I went online to find homebirth support, I found unassisted homebirth. I didn’t think I could legally do that. After that, I had an unassisted miscarraige, and then I gave myself my own prenatal care and gave birth twice more without hiring anyone to be there.

    I read a ton of books out of insatiable curiosity. I paid close attention to my physical health and reassessed our decision based on whether or not there was something presenting itself in that pregnancy. I kept a journal and I researched questions I had. It wasn’t a hard-core decision. It was a flexible decision, specific to that pregnancy and our situation in our life. It was a difficult decision when the majority of people in my life thought I was making a dangerous choice for my child and myself. I reminded myself that I would select something as low-intervention as possible first as a solution to any problem in our pregnancy and delivery no matter where I was. I would have waived the u/s unless there were many other symptoms that made me think it was necessary even in the hospital. I would have refused almost every one of their tests or procedures unless there were physical signs of something being wrong. So really, what good would it have done to go there? Many times, that thought process led to home remedies, nutrition tweaking, or just asking a friendly midwife a question. I sought some chiropractic care with a highly trained chiro that works with pregnant women and babies to meet certain needs I had with my body. I also did have an exam with a friendly midwife–paying her a one time fee– when I needed a second opinion on a concern of mine. I never hired the midwives I interviewed while pregnant those times, but I’m not opposed to it in the future. My only concern in hiring one is that they have certain limits in transferring. I can’t say that I would transfer for some of the things they might be required to transfer for. I would have had to do more searching or discussing with them to be sure of the right attendant, and I felt like the hassle wasn’t something that I was needing for my situation. If there were things going on in my pregnancy or my health that led me to feel more concerned about finding someone to be there just in case, then I think it would have been worth the fight to have assistance.

    I wasn’t informed about birth issues in the beginning, and I know many women aren’t. Now, I’m a childbirth educator, doula, and student midwife. This is where I can respect everyone’s birth choices, as long as they are informed:
    If women are honest with themselves and not romanticizing or trying to fit in with what other people are doing or expect from them, then I can respect whatever decision they make really, because I think it will have the most safe outcome for that woman and baby. Everything I have learned about birth so far has affirmed that.

    I do suggest UC and websites about UC to women even if they don’t ask. I only do it because I think that some people don’t realize that it is even a valid option. I think it’s important for families to have ALL the options. I honestly don’t think that people will choose to birth unassisted unless they believe it’s best for them or unless they feel forced to out of lack of other options. I have noticed that most people I mention it to know that it isn’t for them. heck, most people I even mention homebirth WITH a birth attendant know that it isn’t for them when they aren’t comfortable with it.

    Even with education, birthing women have to be comfortable and feel safe. Sometimes we know something, but we can’t accept it. And that’s okay… Maybe I could have hired a midwife for the last two births, and maybe my birth would have been just as awesome and safe, but since I couldn’t accept that ‘truth’, I made a safe choice by going with who I did feel safe (my husband).

  • Robin

    i couldn’t afford to have my LO in a birthing center, but my hospital was staffed with midwives. I had a fast and hard labor, but i was able to do it drug free which was very important to me. I would not have been able to do it without interventions if it weren’t for my amazing husband who was a strong advocate in my labor. At the end I was begging him for drugs that I knew before labor I didn’t want… and he would lovingly recommend “another hot shower” or “let me put counter pressure on the bacl labor pain” or something else and i was sure i was going to kill him if he didn’t go get the anesthesiologist… but before I could debate, I got out of the water tub and I really needed to push! If LO had taken any longer, I would have had medication. Everyone’s birth is different, and every woman knows her limit… I am grateful that my labor was able to go the way it did, and i send out blessings and healing energy for women who need physical and/or emotional time to heal from their labor.

  • HeatherJ

    about husbands:
    I think it’s important to have lots of honest discussions about birth-related topics and to address his concerns with respect and love. It’s hard when you disagree, but the process of working out fears and learning more helps you grow strong in your decision (no matter what you choose in the end). I can’t imagine giving birth without my husband’s support… and by that I mean that I need him to back my choices up in order to take on the world. He doesn’t have to be with me. He doesn’t even have to be as passionate about it, but he has to be okay with the choice we make together. When our family is attacked or criticized (by relatives or even by community members) for our choices, I need to know that I can depend on him to stand by me on what we did. Birth is not risk-free. I hate to be fearful, but realistically, if something happened (hospital or home w/midwife or home w/no one), I would need to know that he didnt blame me and that it wouldn’t tear apart my family.

  • Bethany

    Great topic! I had my fifth UP/UC and am planing another in Spring.

    I have to say that while I try to never pressure women into having an UC I will try to encourage them to at least give it some thought. It isn’t so much about a right or wrong or even judgement on what they should do. I 100% agree with the fact that women are going to have the BEST birth where ever they feel the most comfortable, where ever that might be. But I think it is such an “out there” thought process for most that I think most don’t even think they are truly capable of it so they shut it down right away. I honestly think it is akin to a natural childbirther choosing to not bring up a natural birth like they had (regardless of whether it be attended or not or home or hospital) to the woman that was told she needs another c/s. While I don’t think any of us would argue with her if she truly believes that is what she needs I don’t think we could sit by and at least not encourage her to explore all of her options. That is how I view UC now, I throw it out to every mama I speak to as one of their MANY options to give birth because I am sure it is not going to be an opinion they get from 99% of the people they talk to and they will never know if it is right for them or not if they don’t give it some real thought. I honestly wished some one I knew would have suggested it to me sooner. I remember bringing it up to my husband with our second and was basically laughed at (despite the fact he LOVES UC now) and I felt like I was being completely insane since I didn’t know of anyone doing it. Women are empowered with knowledge no matter their choice in the end!

    Thanks for the great discussion!

  • Becca

    I had my first 8 months ago and there where a few times in which I broke down in frustration with our health care system and told my husband I would just do it at home all by myself! I did end up birthing incthe hospital and had a fantastic experience. I had a large baby, 10lbs 6oz, and hemeraged very badly. I have been told this is a bigger risk with large babies and could very likely occur again with my next. Does anyone know much about this? I’m not pregnant now but I intend to have more babies!

    • Mrs. BWF

      I hemmoraghed (sp?) with my VBA2C hospital birth. From what I have read and experienced it seems more likely when a care provider rushes the placenta to birth by cord traction (that’s what happened w/me). I did bleed a lot with my next birth (my UC), but since there were no interventions and I knew what to do to help, everything was fine.

      • Rachele

        Okay, Mrs. BWF, so please tell what you did to help the bleeding from your first UC. Inquiring minds want to know. My husband and I are interested and we’d also like to know what websites or books UC moms read that help most with your preparation. Thanks.

    • Danea

      I hemorrhaged very badly after my son’s homebirth (8lbs7oz) because my placenta only partially detached after my 2 hour 15 min labor. My MW never intervened letting it come out on it’s own and after it delivered she gave me liquid chlorophyll to help stop the bleeding. I was so grateful for her hands-off approach during the delivery and that she stepped in only when necessary <3

      I know there is a slight possibility of hemorrhage again so I wouldn't feel comfortable without her presence next time just in case.

  • marli

    I had an unassisted childbirth with my son 5.5months ago. I tested positive for GBS at 24 weeks and couldn’t find a midwife willing to assist a GBS+ homebirth. (We live in Germany). Everyone insisted we go into hospital for IV antibiotics during labor. But we really wanted a homebirth and I had my heart set on it. So me and my husband did a LOT of research and preparation on unassisted birth, and had a wonderful, unhindered, 2.5 hour birth by ourselves, at home, in a birthpool. The nearest hospital is only a 2minute drive away and we felt this was close enough in case of emergency, but we did pray a LOT about our decision before and during the birth and felt overwhelmed with peace that it was the right thing to do. It was magical and I cannot imagine ever birthing any other way, accept perhaps with a very hands-off midwife present next time. I just completely trusted my body to do what God so amazingly designed it for. It was my second birth after one ordinary hospital birth 3 years ago. I did end up tearing slightly and going into hospital to get a couple of stitches but was back home in a couple of hours.

  • Kelly Graham

    Hi everyone. I am a big supporter of UC. I believe in birth with every part of my being. some in my community would say that I am crazy because of my pure beliefs in birth, but its true lol. I will be a Midwife in the near future and will still hold my same beliefs. I think that some women are just put here to squat in the field, have their babies, and move on (one happens to be one of my best friends who “free birthed”…really the most unreal experience!!!)….well we all actually are, but it takes a very special type of woman to UC. Its possible and it happens everywhere in the world. It is however not a thing to take lightly. Its a huge intense process of getting in touch with yourself and your powers and that takes a lot of work!

  • Felicia

    I am a mom of 9, #1and 2 CS, 3 thru 7 HB with midwife, and # 7 thru 9 UC.
    Recently I have come to a realization, being very frustrated with my cousin and her “concerns” with UCing twins,I went on a forum and rambled about how uneducated she was, how I was doing what’s best for my babies, and most of all how she wasn’t respecting my choices,how no one respects my choices…. How could she say anything to me when she had an induction at 43weeks, and that for baby # 2 she had a another induction…how could SHE do that to her kids……..
    The following day I re read my comment and saw the support of all of the other UC moms .I suddenly realized that I was acting just like her , that I was critizing her for being induced , just like she critized me for have a UC…
    and I see that all the time on the FB page mom crying for respect of their choices, and then critizing others… saying that vaccination is horrible, circumsion is a crime… All of thoses choices are personal ones , and not of our business.We are just as bad as they are,we are hypocrit…
    Now I am making an effort for not judging the choices of others, even if it involves elective C section.I am not assuming that they must be ill informed for making such a decision…And when the hitch is hard , I remind myself that when I UC I don’t want anyone to judge me,and for that I must NOT judge others! I make the decison that I think is best for my family, and I try not to worry about what others do.

    • Amber A

      Felicia, I am so new to this thought. I have only had 6 kids and with all of them I was induced. I have large babies, I gave birth to a 10lb 10oz 23 1/2″ long for my first. So THEY don’t want me to birth after 39wks. To be honest I was ok with that for a while, you know we could plan and schedule it around hubbies work. I know it is sad and selfish to say that. I never thought about it that way. I am glad to hear a mom that has more kids than me that has had a UC. I am really considering it for the next time though. I just hate the thought of call the ob again when I have no issues birthing. Just have never found out when my body will actually get with it and labor. I am usually about a 3-4 when they induce at 39. I am tired of that. I want to just labor on my own at home without iv’s and monitors and people say do this, lay down, now try pushing. BUT I was worried since most people on here have less kids than me. I wondered how it would be with someone that has had a bunch of kids, the bleeding, the uterus shrinking and all that. Thank you for posting, you give me courage!

  • Amanda

    My first son was born in the hospital after only being there for 40 minutes. In that time I was told not to push because the doc wasn’t there yet. I had to tell him not to cut an episiotomy once he did get there. They gave me a shot of pit without telling me what it was or asking my permission. I wasn’t look forward to having to fend off interventions for my next birth. I was looking for a midwife but we didn’t have any in our area. I asked the hypothetical question on a messageboard about just not going to the hospital or doing it ourselves at home. That is where I learned about UC and that I wasn’t crazy or alone. It felt right, right away. I spent the rest of my pregnancy researching. I had my second son 4 years ago at home with just my DH and My Mom.

  • Kim

    I am currently pregnant with my first (due in June) and I chose to UC many years ago, for many reasons. I assumed, when I was younger, that like everyone I knew, I’d just have my children at the hospital. That is, until my sister had her first baby. She had a vaginal delivery (assisted with pitocin & epidural) but hemmoraghed horribly when they ‘pulled’ the placenta from her-I almost had to give blood for a transfusion for her. This was my first hint that a hospital experience was not what I wanted for my own births someday. My father was born at home with a midwife so that was my next logical step in thought. Maybe a midwife at a hospital. For many years I thought maybe a midwife would be good for me, but the older I got the more private I became. Not to mention, witnessing more births via family members and realizing that most of the midwives serving in our hospitals (my area inparticular) were using the same model of birth as the docs- ALL were considered emergencies worthy of interventions…and they did for the most part. I then came to the step where I decided homebirth might be best for me, as it was not in the hospital setting altogether. Then, as I did more and more study, finding not all midwives respected womens’ choices or their bodies..sometimes to the surprise of the birthing mom even, that too bothered me as I don’t give trust to strangers easily and know I could not handle something like that. (Please don’t get me wrong…I don’t hate midwives at all and have a great respect for the work they do.) I don’t like the idea of being ‘handled’ by anyone (physically or emotionally) or feeling vulnerable w/out any say in what goes on with my body or my baby. That made me just want to be alone, which is when I ran into UC online. I’d never heard of anyone doing UC before, but the more I read, the more research I did, the more I educated myself, the more confident I was that it was the right choice for me.
    It’s been a progression of almost 15yrs of seeing/hearing others’ experiences, researching for myself and self-education that has led me here but oddly, UC is what scares me least when it comes to my birthing options.
    I know others who feel the opposite-that they would only feel comfortable/safe in a hospital with a doc or midwife…and that is what’s best for them.
    I firmly believe that whatever you feel is best for you to birth your baby safely and peacefully, then that is what you should do. Of course there is always still risk with UC but there is with any birth.
    I do have a back-up OB though, at one of our many local hospitals, within 20min. distance. This we did, just incase we were to need a transfer for some reason.
    Now, I’ve only told a few folks that I plan on a HB….and hubby & I have told no one of it being a UC, although some I’ve spoken about it with a few in the past and got the ‘you’re a freak’ look/reaction, along with a few rude & heartless comments regarding my ‘carelessness/recklessness’ in considering such a thing. We’ve decided now though, we won’t be speaking about it with anyone, as it just feeds arguments and debates I don’t care to have during a time that I’m supposed to be enjoying.

    • Kim

      I read your birth story and found it very encouraging. Hearing wonderful stories like that keeps any creeping fears, from growing up around the typical horror stories of birth, from bothering me again. Thank you for sharing.

  • Crystal Bowden

    For me I knew that the safest way for me to give birth would be unassisted. Even with the most hands-off midwife, there would have been too much of an outside interference & that I felt would have a negative impact on my birth. For me having an unassisted pregnancy was also a big part of the process. To help prepare myself for the birth, to learn and to have a better understanding of my body and my baby without reliance on others to give me my power. I owned it.

    Here is my birth story for anyone that wants to read. 🙂

    It was a life altering experience. It has changed how I see my husband and has ultimately made me a stronger woman.

    • Kim

      Thanks for sharing Crystal. Another amazing UC story to encourage me with. I LOVE reading them. Each one helps me on my journey. Congrats on your newest addition.

  • Maet

    Coming from a place of the sprituality and normality of birth and believing wholeheartedly in homebirth, and seeing so many be an uplifting and empowering event in a family’s life I support women birthing however they choose. For me I would have a homebirth WITH a midwife and her gear (eg. resus equipment, syntocinon if needed and the knowledge of emergency management- breech, pph, shoulder dystocia). I understand this may not be for everyone here but I trust in midwives, it is about choosing someone who will be there, take a back seat, know when to support and when to fade away, encourage, support, massage, assist. Unassisted childbirth cannot be for everyone. I understand that some midwives have had negative and even traumatic influences on some women’s lives. But midwifery in the real sense is should be like a doula and also support in an emergency should that arise.

  • Free

    I had my first 3 in hospital and though not overly traumatic I didn’t want to do it their way again. I chose to have my 4th at home and it was a great experience, I had my much wanted water birth and it was my safest and easiest birth. I had my biggest (4.2kg)child at home without any trouble and I think that had a lot to do with how I felt about it all. My husband was by my side as I brought my baby out of the water. Foetal ejection reflex occurred and it was amazing,, no tear either. Being able to relax and be free to bond after was wonderful. I had never had a babymoon before and it really helped, I think I was on a high for almost a year, never thought it possible to enjoy that first year but I did with #4. It was my way and I just can’t imagine doing it any other way now. I am planning UC for May next year with bub #5.

  • Dee

    I did a home birth with my 2nd but am considering (heavily) to do a UC with my 3rd. Granted, my 2nd is still only 5mths old so I have awhile to go. But we have had so many things in the birth that I know we could have handeled myself. My midwife didnt do much really besides make some tea and clean up. I know that my husband would be more in tune with me as well if we did a UC.

  • Lyra

    My 1st birth was supposed to be midwife-assisted in a free-standing birthing center. However, due to my water being broken for over 24 hours and birth center policy, I was transferred to the hospital. Labor was induced, which caused fetal distress, and I ended up with a doctor-assisted Cesarean. It was a true case of birth rape, and I later suffered from PPD, PTSD, panic attacks, and a whole host of other issues that I’m still dealing with 10 years later.

    My 2nd birth was a UP/UC. It was AMAZING. I labored at home for about 24 hours, although only the last several hours were painful and challenging. My water broke in the shower. I felt the urge to push a couple of hours later. With a few pushes, my 9 lb baby girl flew out of me with a gush of fluid. She cried immediately.

    I did have a retained placenta. I was bleeding quite heavily for a few hours, and nursing the baby didn’t seem to help. I just wasn’t contracting, and being Rh-, I didn’t want to pull on the cord or massage my uterus through my belly. Instead, I took a dropperfull of Shepherd’s Purse. I contracted a few minutes later and out came the placenta!

    My 3rd birth was also a UP/UC. Labor was much like my first UP/UC. But the pushing stage was different. I didn’t feel the urge to push during the peak of a contraction, but as the contraction was fading. So that’s when I pushed. He came out much slower, but it was a good thing. He ended up being 10 lbs and HUGE, but I didn’t tear. Matter of fact, I wasn’t even sore or swollen afterwards, and I walked and showered like I didn’t just have a baby.

    I’m now 32 weeks pregnant with baby #4. My situation is quite different now. My first 3 were born within my 12 year marriage. This baby is by my ex-fiance. I want a UC, although I have been receiving prenatal care through an OB just for support since I’m all alone (no family/friends, both parents are dead now.) I’m just nervous about having a UC completely unassisted–no hubby/baby’s daddy.

  • Laydee Bugg

    I love seeing these stories of mom’s who UC’ed with their first birth! The confidence of these women is so inspiring! We’re TTC, which is something that I never, ever, ever thought I would do, b/c I’ve always been terrified of birth, or so I thought….last year a friend had a HB with a midwife, (which I didn’t know about until after the fact)…but suddenly it opened up this huge realization for me that I wasn’t afraid of birth, I was afraid of hospitals and all of the scary things that happen there! I remember clearly, listening to my mother tell stories of my birth (30 odd years ago) about how mean the nurses were and how no one told her what was going on, that they were just doing things to her, that they took me away and left a bottle of water and a nipple on her side table with no instructions…and when they brought me back to her she started feeding me the bottle of water and they yelled at her for being so stupid…i remember these stories, which I probably haven’t heard since I was 5…and from that very young age, my perception was formed…
    so I’ve been doing research now for about a year and thanks to you ladies I learn more and more everyday…(I follow about 13 birth sites on FB, lol) but I gain more confidence everyday and it’s taken just a year to go from, “I will never have kids”, to “maybe I can UC!”
    it’s been a pretty remarkable journey.. <3

  • Inneka

    I believe that your birth choices reflect the type of person you are, as well as your level of self-education and very often your previous birthing experiences. I have only chosen midwife-attended birth, simply because I have had fantastic birth experiences with my very warm, hands-off midwives, who were only there to assist me to have the birth I wanted, even when I was completely ignorant (although well-researched) with my first birth about what it was all about. You really don’t know about birth until you have experienced it.
    For myself, I feel very safe and comfortable giving birth in the presence of my close family and the midwives that I had for 4 out of 5 of my births. The other birth was accidentally unattended because I was not comfortable with the midwives I had for that birth, and I think my body birthed very fast before they could get to my home because I was more comfortable without them. My mother was there to help me, and everything went perfectly okay.
    Would I ever choose to birth unassisted? Probably not. I like the community feel of a joyful birth, surrounded by people I love and who love me. And I don’t have to worry about the safety aspect of the birth–that is all taken care of by experienced women who I trust, because they have proven themselves as trustworthy.

  • Anonymous

    I am 1 month pregnant with my first child. My husband and I decided a while back that we wanted to deliver our children via home births, possibly water births, and possibly with the assistance of a midwife. More recently we realized we really feel like we can do it alone, without the assistance of a midwife, so long as we are within a reasonable distance to a hospital. Just last month we started “trying” to conceive and conceived immediately! I feel so blessed!

    I KNOW that MOST people in our group of friends and family will NOT support our choices. But it’s not their choice! And I disagree with them on everything already, so it’ll be nothing new. 😉 I’ll need to try my best to respectfully respond to them… If something “goes wrong” we will be prepared. I have done a ton of research, and will continue to learn as much as I can about birth and potential problems that could arise during the 9 months and during labor. I do believe God will deliver whoever he wants, whenever he wants, however he wants. I feel extremely driven to do an unassisted birth and possibly an UP as well.

    I’d like to hear from people who are OPPOSED to Ultra Sounds…would like to be informed before getting one (considering not getting one at all)…I’ve heard it can cause permanent brain damage, etc…but I need to see more info on that. I would probably only get one just to check for location of placenta. My hubby and I have never used a fetoscope but we’ll learn if we need to… 🙂

    Still pondering whether or not we should hire a midwife to do ONE check-up and have her be on-call in case we have questions/concerns during labor…

    • Kim

      I’m pregnant with my first as well and am not getting ultra sounds, to the frustration of the midwives at my OB’s office. Nor am I getting internal exams of any kind…also frustrated them greatly.
      I had read several research papers (mostly from 2006 and prior-all the way back to the 70’s actually) regarding the unproven safety of ultrasound. Even comments by the AMA & ACOG, etc…stating the same, as there is no regulation of strength & length of exposure in each ultrasound. They also mentioned not knowing the effects of cavitation in the womb which ultrasound can cause.
      So basically they still use it bc babies aren’t actually dying from it and ‘seem’ to have no immediate affects on them, but they aren’t being tracked either. Its akin to the many years they swore xray was safe to use on the unborn and used it like mad….until they finally proved it unsafe when there was enough research done on it.
      I have some links I can send you if you want. Just let me know. 🙂

      • Karuna

        I am not wishing to fear mongrel but I feel that I have to say something. It is so so so important to be really truly sure of your ability to UP and even then, as a mother, a woman, a labor assistant and a paramedic it terrifies me. I ran a call recently ( not long after the midwife attended birth of my daughter) where a couple decided to UP and had had no ultrasounds or check ups with professionals of any kind and they didn’t know they had twins. At 37 weeks she went into labor and labored for 3 days before she started feeling so weak and I’ll that her husband called 911. She had half delivered the first breech baby when we arrived. Baby was born with APGAR of 3 and 4 and required full resucitation and had a broken clavical. The second baby’s cord was tangled around the first baby’s body leading to some confusion. The second baby was a footling breech and unfortunately did not survive the difficult labor and seemed to have been physically challenged as well ( much smaller and odd features). The couple was devastated. To make things worse mom hemorhaged severely and required transfusions. It was horrible from start to finish. I know that this all could have gone down the same way in a hospital or under the care of a HB midwife but these people were under the impression that they had it all under controll and they knew everything that was happening with her body and their baby.

        I am a rabid home birth advocate. I labored for 2 days in my own living room in the arms of my mother and husband before a fever, vomiting and an elevated white blood cell count in context of 30+ hrs after SROM sent me to the hospital for antibiotics. I believe that pregnancy and birth are not pathological and are best nurtured in a hands off way, however, I also believe it is wise to find a provider you trust and respect and let them put all of their education ( midwifery school, medical school, apprenticeship) to use to help you ensure you have truly prepared. I beg people to be as sure as possible and hearing someone say they will just wing it with a fetascope gives me chills and flashbacks to the looks on the faces of this family when we told them there were two more feet. Sorry to be a black cloud. I want to be clear that while UC is not for me, I support women who choose it but I BEG people to get an experienced person involved at least once.

  • Brittany J

    Well, I would love to do a UC but I feel as though for my own personal benefit that it would be better for me to do so in steps.

    My first birth was an unnecesarean that left horribly deep emotional scars and left me with PTSD.

    With this birth I am trusting my midwife to come through for me in a hospital birth center where she has already made it clear that I can do whatever I want to during my L&D and that If I wanted to push while I was standing on my head that she would support it and encourage it.

    When my husband and I choose to have a third child, I will be very much considering a HBAVBAC with a midwife.

    Should we have a fourth child, the option will be a UC for me. For me, I feel as though it isn’t something that i can jump into lightly. BUT.. I can only speak for myself.

    Reading stories of other’s UC are inspiring. Keep them coming!

  • Dawn Shepard

    You dont really have to post this because I dont want to sound totally uneducated, however I have a question? What is the differance between UP and UC?
    Thank you for your time.

    • Mrs. BWF

      You do not sound uneducated at all. I wrote them out in the blog post, but I am sure it’s easily missed. 🙂 UP is an unassisted pregnancy and UC is unassisted childbirth. Not all women who choose to UC, choose to UP and will have prenatal care. 🙂

  • Susan Alexander

    I don’t think I would ever want to do UP – just me…. My first was a c-section that I feel was very much needed – at her 20 week ultrasound we discovered she had a single umbilical artery. And then she was stuck breech. I tried everything, but she just wouldn’t turn (and they couldn’t do a version because of how my placenta was attached). All my reading on the mechanics of breech birth convinced me that it was unsafe with a single umbilical artery. So I feel that c-section was well warranted.

    Because of her issues, I personally will never feel comfortable skipping the 20 week ultrasound. I also know that I am sugar sensitive and will never feel comfortable skipping the GD testing (and in fact, am debating pushing to take it twice next time as I seem to get MORE sensitive as my pregnancy goes on).

    At any rate, my second was a beautiful natural VBAC in the hospital. It was remarkably close to being a UC, but definitely not intentional that way. I felt that for my first VBAC I really wanted to be in the hospital and monitored during pushing. I wanted the heplock for that reassurance in case something went wrong. I got just what I wanted and of course those two interventions were very annoying, but I dealt because that’s what I wanted.

    My third should be coming up in the next year or so. My baby is 8 months on Saturday and we are not preventing, so I imagine I will likely be pregnant in the next 6 months or so. I don’t know where we’re going to live – we’re moving in roughly 8 months, so I will be delivering in a new unknown place. Ideally I’d like a homebirth midwife-assisted VBAC, but whether we can afford that depends on whether there’s a CNM doing homebirths that is comfortable with VBAC. If that’s not an option, either a midwife or supportive OB in a hospital is my second choice. But if I can’t find a supportive provider, I am considering going for a UC. It just all depends on the birth climate where we’re living!!! This blog discussion has been very helpful for me in releasing some fears about UC if we do decide to do it.

    Even if we don’t UC with the next baby, I suspect that’s where we’ll eventually end up. We plan a large family and I do plan to get midwife training eventually (it is a dream of mine to become a homebirth midwife when my children are old enough to be left at home for the extended time of a birth).

  • Katy Parsons

    Wow, I live in England so its very different for us as we have the NHS. I’m not sure that I’d want an unassisted birth but I have been very fortunate to have had 2 homebirths (in a paddling pool). my 1st birth was my favourite because they respected my privacy and let me get on with, it accept for checking the babies heart rate at regular intervals. Unfortunately I moved house when my 2nd child was born & the midwife on call wanted to follow too many rules,e.g. about the temp of the water & ruined that relaxing experience for me, so I love the idea that u can chose your midwife!! in the uk u either turn up @ hospital & get what u r given or deliver @ home & hope that the duty midwife is (a) nice and (b) trained in waterbirths!! My only advice is believe in your body, our bodies are amazing.

  • Joni

    Hi all… I’ve appreciated the discussion here but with respect I see that most posters are pro UC and have UC’ed themselves. I am not against UC per se but I have a foundation for a different opinion.

    First let me say, I am a RN and was a labor and delivery RN for some time. I don’t think this makes me jaded but I have seen more complication than the average person. While I recognize that many (if not most) complications are directly related to the interventions imposed by medical “professionals”, I also acknowledge that this is not always the case. I am educated, medically, but also spiritually and emotionally. I did not approach any of my births from a medical standpoint, even those that were medically “managed”. I feel like I have a balance between book smarts and trust and intuition.

    Second, I believe my perspective is somewhat unique in that a. I am a RN b. I had 3 induced hospital births that were “medically necessary”, which I know is a bogus reason, but that had (mostly) good outcomes and c. I chose home for my 4th birth. I had a hemorrhage with one of my hospital births and retained placenta with two of them which I can easily attribute to pitocin and an over zealous doctor. (Please feel free to read the detailed story of our HB here under Ella’s birth story part2). While these complications did not arise with my 4th birth (at home) what I did have was a true case of severe shoulder dystocia.

    Many UC’ers would suggest that when a woman is given the opportunity to freebirth these types of complications will not arise at all or will be solved by mother being allowed to listen to her body and adapt accordingly. I was left to labor alone, in fact my midwife slept for much of my labor. My husband and I worked together as a well oiled machine. We had every intention of him catching our baby and our midwife just being available in case we needed her. I birthed in a pool after 15 hours of walking and squatting and soaking in the water and generally doing whatever felt right and good. I pushed twice to deliver my daughters head and five minutes later the rest of her body. I knew once her head delivered and I felt the classic “turtle” sign that we were about to have a dystocia. I knew this because I have seen it. I immediately suggested I go to hands and knees but my midwife recommended I not since she feared the babes head would be out of the water if I turned, thus initiating respiratory drive and requiring a faster delivery. In that light, the water bought us some time. I stayed in the tub in various positions, and to no avail. After 3+ minutes I turned onto hands and knees and almost 2 minutes after that my daughter was finally born.

    I absolutely KNEW what to do in every sense of the word because I’ve done every position (from McRoberts to Zavanelli) known to modern (an ancient) man to attempt to free a stuck baby in my professional practice. But I could NOT have gotten that baby out without her. I tried. Truly. I needed her expertise to grab her anterior shoulder and free it. My husband wouldn’t have been able to do it, even with instruction. And I couldn’t reach it.

    I personally would not UC (though I would UP). I would feel perfectly comfortable having a homebirth again and encourage it. I honestly believe it’s safer than almost any hospital birth but I also believe that the skilled hands of a professional midwife who has caught 1500+ babies (in our case) is useful to have around *just in case*. My midwife would never have laid hands on me had we not needed it. But it turns out we actually did. I’m blessed and grateful that she was there to help when needed.

    As a lover of mothers and babies, and a believer in birth and it’s incredible power to change women and the world, I respect all birth choices. Hospital to UC and everything in between. I encourage women to be educated in their decision making and to believe in themselves and the power their bodies hold.


    • Mary Bennefield

      Joni – it is so nice to meet another RN on here who shares the exact same beliefs and philosophies that I do. Working L&D certainly does give us a different perspective on things and having our own experiences to draw upon (in my opinion) also helps make us better delivery nurses.

      I hope our presence and participation in this blog / FB page will show others that there are “professionals” out here who truly do support them and their choices. We offer our insight and opinions but respect every woman and her right to choose her own path.

      Sometimes, I do feel “attacked” and that is bothersome …. I am not here to offend or upset; in fact, I actually came her to broaden my own views and gain further knowledge as well. I suppose that perhaps some of the “backlash” may come from the fear / mistrust of any “medical personnel” but perhaps with love, patience and kindness I will eventually earn their trust.

      Again, it is so nice to meet you!

  • Heather Banka

    I had a UC and my baby died. I know no one wants to hear about how if I’d gone to a hosptial and had monitering there is almost no chance he would have died, but it is what it is. I can’t say I’d choose it again. I thought I was educated, but I can’t really say that and believe it anymore. I knew there were a million things that could go wrong, but I had “it won’t happen to me” syndrome.

    • Mary Bennefield

      Heather, I am so very VERY sorry for your loss. As a L&D nurse I want to tell you that even in the mose “ideal” setting with “highly trained” professionals, these things can and do still occur. I can not imagine your sorrow but please, try not to be so hard on yourself! I am here for you …. you may call/text/e-mail anytime – my # is (903) 390-7129 and e-mail is (Due to my own personal & professional experience I am trained to help with infant bereavement.) I do want to hear your story; I do care. It is very difficult to say goodbye when we never really had the chance to say hello.

      P.S. I just realized your post is from 12/17; that is the same exact date that I lost my daughter at 27 weeks gestation in 2004. 6 years later I can tell you that, although the scar remains, hope does exist and time does in fact help ease the pain. (((Hugs)))

  • ROSE

    Ultrasounds, yes or no? If yes – why and at what point during pregnancy is it most important to have it done? If no, why not and what are the risks?

    • Holly Wilson

      I’d like to hear some opinions on this too. I know I would want an ultrasound at some point to make sure there was nothing that would require immediate attention at birth so that I could feel more comfortable with a homebirth and possible UC, but I have heard that at 20 weeks it might cause problems with organ development? Anyone have any info on this?

      • Mrs. BWF

        If you ladies follow the Facebook page, then you know that I chose to have an u/s about 2 weeks ago. It has been my only one during this unassisted pregnancy. The only intervention at all. For me, with this pregnancy and in my current situation, I felt I really needed ti to be at peace. I knew I wouldn’t let anything lead to unnecessary interventions. I also know of the risks from u/s, but personally was OK with that. A short u/s to ensure my peace and a wonderful birth was worth. I received a lot of crap for this decision and was shocked that it was coming from the natural birth community and UCers. We have to listen to our guts/intuition, especially when having an UC!

        • Mary Bennefield

          Well said Mrs. BWF ….. and I am so glad you are feeling better (and have peace of mind as well). As I have said before, we are blessed to live in a day and time where we do have things available to us if we need them. Each and every woman, and each and every single pregnancy, have their own unique journey. We need to support and respect each others choices ….. that is what this type of community is all about! Empowering and educating women and providing a safe place for them to express ideas and opinions and exchange information in a caring, non-judmental forum! I absolutely LOVE your blog and FB page!! (My friend Steph J. suggested this to me and I can not tahnk her enough!!)

  • Nessa

    Just wanted to say how AMAZING it is that there are still women who choose to get pregnant, who want to get pregnant. I know so many women nowadays who don’t want children, many are scared, “not ready” (ever) or they “don’t like kids.” Whether you birth at home or in a hospital or birthing center, I think you should all get a pat on the back for just choosing to be a mother. It’s the most important job on Earth and women who are strong enough to go for it – they’re the true heroes of the human race!

  • Mary Bennefield

    I’m sort of a weird mix …. I totally support UC for the average healthy pregnant woman as long as she and her support team are well educated and have a well thought out emergency plan (in the unlikely event they should need one). That being said, I do believe in at least some prenatal care to ensure that both mom and baby are doing well and to make sure there are no major complications (anomallies that we need to know about before birth if the child is to survive, etc.) That being said … each of us have the right to choose and so long as we are well educated, prepared and willing to accept total responsibility (good, bad or indifferent) then I support and respect your wishes!! (When I was going through nursing school, one of my classmates had a successful UC … even videotaped it with the help of a tripod! … and she had the most incredible, empowering natural birth followed by an awesome sense of pride / accomplishment and a beautiful, healthy 8lb baby boy.)

  • Brittney

    I gave birth to my second child unassisted. The difference between births was beyond amazing. I believe birth is designed to work when no one else is around most of the time,. I fully trusted my daughter, myself, God, and kept myself low risk through my pregnancy. What a lot of women don’t understand is that no matter WHERE we birth our babies, the responsibility to bring them into this world in the gentlest, safest, and most peaceful way possible is OURS. Period. My biggest pet peeve is when people say “If you UC you have to be prepared to take full-responsibility” or as you said at the top of this page that you “personally never recommend UC, because I know it is a very personal decision that requires a lot of thought (prayer), working through fears, educating oneself, having the right support and taking complete responsibility.” Shouldn’t every choice in birthing our babies include these things? Whether or not you birth in the hospital with a scheduled c-section or plan a completely solo UC, shouldn’t where and with whom we birth our babies require “a lot of thought (prayer), working through fears, educating oneself, having the right support, and taking complete responsibility”?? I think so. I very much think so. Let’s not pretend that birth is in anyone else’s hands but our own and God’s.

    • Brittney

      Also wanted to clarify… Mrs. BWF, I don’t think you are saying we shouldn’t be educated and take complete responsibility, etc… if we choose to have a hospital, home, or unassisted birth. I was just ranting about a particular pet-peeve of mine. 🙂

  • Jenn

    I had my first child in the hospital. It was a cesarean. I didn’t regret the c/s, and I still feel like it was neccesarry. My second daughter came very quickly, DH, got home about 15 minutes before the birth, and midwife got there about 45 minutes after. All was fine, I had a second degree tear that she sewed up for me, but aside from that, I didn’t need her. Same with #3, labour from first ctx to birth was 30 minutes, midwife got there 30 minutes later and sewed me up again, aside from the shock of having such a fast birth, all was well. I plan on having one more birth, and hiring the same midwife. I’m a CBE, doula and hope to be a midwife when my own children are a bit older. I know birth, I am not afraid. I love the care I get from my midwife before and after the birth. I value the role of a midwife. I feel so very blessed to have had two UC’s, but the second one I was in a different place and all I wanted every contraction was for another woman (my midwife in particular) to wrap her arms around me. I could have cared less if DH was even there. I think every woman needs to birth where she feels safest and with whom she feels safest.

  • T

    I really would like to U/C this time but I do not have the support I need, and I am afraid of recurrences of things that have happened in my previous births. When I delivered alone (not my choice) I had some scary moments when my daughter came out with a short cord, floppy, unresponsive, and no discernible pulse. I wanted to leave the cord intact but I couldn’t reach her to do mouth to mouth and being a very fat person, could not observe her well to do chest compressions. I had to rip the cord with my hands, work on her, then leave her to go summon help. That’s more drama and adrenaline than I want to deal with. When my son was born more recently, we had some pretty sticky shoulders to deal with, he was 44 weeks and over 10lbs. I would not have wanted to be alone or with no one present trained to help. I want to be in my birth not running things as to basic survival. I want to be in my heart not be forced to be totally in my head when I deliver and I want the privacy and freedom of U/C but the nurture and safety of being attended, Sigh. I guess there is no “perfect birth” for me.

  • Brandi

    It is so interesting reading so many peoples posts and learning about U/C and U/P. I didn’t even know they existed! I’m not sure how I missed that having had 3 babies. I would LOVE a homebirth but, to be honest I’m terrified. In July I went in for my 20 week ultrasound only to find my daughter was dead. I have had some health problems and been to so many doctors to find out what is going on in my body. The rheumitologist that I saw after my loss told me she thought that the anti-bodies they found are what stopped my baby’s heart and that now I’m high risk and have to be monitored closely. I also have very low blood platelets in my third trimester. Friends and family are encouraging me to either stop having children (I know there are more for us) or to go to a high-risk OB, which also makes me nervous because those doctors specialize in C-sections! I’ve really had enough of doctors and hospitals with everything that has been going on and I still have no answers but lots of questions. I’m just wondering if I could safely homebirth and would any midwife want to assist me? I’m definitly not confident enough for a UC… yet =-) I also want to say I admire you ladies and hope to have enpowering births from here out! Oh and now we are finally TTC again so, I guess I’ll have time to research before. If anyone has advice I’d love to hear it. I just am not sure where to start.

  • Amber

    I am a doula training to be a midwife and I do not believe in unassisted birth. While birth is a beautiful and natural process, it does still carry some risk. So unless your husband or partner is medically trained I do not think it is responsible to forgo any trained observation. Women have been deliver for thousands of years. But rarely did they deliver alone. Historically we delivered with other women present. If you want a 100% hands off midwife I fully understand. But what are you gaining by not at least having someone in the home who could help in an emergency?

    • Tiffani

      While I do know there are people who wouldn’t even want a 100% hands-off midwife, for me personally, the issue is that such a thing simply does not exist. The laws that govern midwife licensing require her to be involved to a certain extent. A midwife who believes the placenta needs to be delivered in the first hour would risk her practice if she were to were to go against what she believes and allow a mother to go further. It is not fair to the mother to have someone present who doesn’t support her 100%, and it is not fair to the midwife to ask her to be there, and yet ask her to ignore things that she believes to be right. I know my body better than anyone else. No amount of “trained observation” or “medical training” will make anyone know my body better than I do. The only people I need around me are those who are willing to accept that fact.

      • Amber

        There is a response written above about a woman who had a midwife who was hands off and ended up possibly saving her child. And I know midwives who are capable of being 100% hands off. I have seen them in action, or inaction as it were. The situation you described above obviously does not involve that type of midwife. It’s okay not to ask someone to go outside of there comfort zone, but before giving up the effort should be made to find someone who can work with what you want. I understand that is not always possible. I am simply saying you should not write the idea off completely and at least TRY to find them.

        Yes, you know your body better than anyone. But there are situations, which I have also seen, where having that person there has meant the difference not only between life and death for the mother and/or child, but also the difference between life longs problems for the child or not. You know your body, of course. But do you know what to do with shoulder dystocia? What if your child does not begin breathing? I followed my body completely through my 37 hour labor while my midwife allowed me to do whatever I wanted and hemorrhaged severely after my daughter was delivered. Had she not been there, I almost definitely would not have made it. She did not intervene once during my labor, and in the end may have saved my life. She was not even in the room with me through 90% of it. I cannot see that being a big enough inconvenience compared to the risk. I acknowledge that birth is safe and natural and we were made to do it. But I cannot justify the risk of having no one there.

    • Amy

      Birth is as safe as life gets. If birth was dangerous our species wouldn’t be here. I think what many don’t realise is that people who UC have dealt with and come to terms with the miniscule risk and are willing to take responsibility for the outcome – at least that was how I felt .

      Historically, the woman with the birthing mother was usually her own mother, sister or daughter with no training and was there to protect from predators and transient men. This woman would have no more expertise in childbirth than any other woman in the community.

      Birth only became ‘dangerous’ when we stopped living outdoors and had an incorrect balance of vitamins, damaging pelvic development. Women today are the result of millions of years of natural selection and factually (not arguably) the healthiest humans in existence (though not for long with our system that favours the weak).

      It is no mistake that you use the term ‘observation’ which is exactly what has an effect on the birth. No one, not even a spouse, can be truly ‘hands off’ (literally, yes, but figuratively, no) as each spectator brings their own set of personal preconceptions and fears that permeate the birthing woman’s environment.

      Further, if one woman is capable of training to be a birth attendant, is not each birthing woman/family capable of the same? I work in structural design and, though I’m not a trained structural engineer (I am ”only’ a structural designer) I can have productive, respectful conversations with structural engineers where my ideas are seen as equal or occasionally better than theirs due to my experience in the field compared to their experience in the office. Women and families who UC spend countless hours researching problems and solutions therefor so you insult us by implying there is no ‘trained observer’ there – there is! She is the birthing woman and she knows her body better than any midwife or doctor ever could.

      What one is gaining is a 100% unhindered, unfettered, unanalysed, uninterrupted, personal, private birth. I did not want strangers attending my most private, personal moment. I do not want strangers attending my bowel movements or sexual intercourse (two other natural body functions) so why would I want them there for my physiological birth?

      I do value midwifery – much more than obstetrics, you can be assured – but I didn’t feel I needed an attendant unless my birth was expected to deviate from the norm. As an aspiring midwife, I encourage you to read the wonderful posts and articles experienced midwife Gloria Lemay has written. Perhaps you will grow to understand more about unhindered birth.

      Peace and love

      • LivandLex

        Thank you so much for pointing out that the mother herself is the “trained observer”!

        I know that for myself I have put many many hours into learning about possible complications and how to handle them in the unlikely event something does happen.

    • Meghan S

      I find it interesting that you state you “do not believe in unassisted birth.” I’m not sure how you come to this, but UC is not Santa, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy. Whether you “believe in it” or not, it is in fact a reality world wide.

      You are correct that “birth is a beautiful and natural process,” and like (literally) EVERYTHING else in this life does carry risks. Someone who has (as a Doula) witnessed births, would surely gain some knowledge on the process, risks and responses to any issues during a birth. One might go so far as to say, that is exactly how women learned since the beginning of time, about birth. Watching. You are wrong though that women have not labored/delivered alone, this is still a practice in many places worldwide. Many women are interested in having a hands-off midwife, but are sad to find that laws make that as common as a pink elephant.
      I will say that women who UC do not do so lightly or without thought and preparation. I would say that the women I have meet and know that UC are vastly more knowledgeable than some of the birth “professionals” that I have encountered.
      There are a multitude of reason that women are led to UC, some for religious reason, others still for birth trauma. But I will say that as someone that is, and will continue to be working in the birth industry, you do not have to agree with the choices that your clients make, but you do have to respect them. This is something that you need to grasp before you have these women in your office.

      I personally gained the birth that my daughter wanted and needed, without limits, by UCing. And I would do it again with any subsequent births, as long as I felt that everything was continuing to progress as normal for me. I researched, read and read some more for years before getting pregnant and while pregnant and I feel confident that I know the best thing to do (or not do) in case something did happen. This is not possible with a midwife in my state, and furthermore by law I would have had to be induced if I had been under their care. I will not allow red tape to dictate my care or the care of my children (earthside or unborn). Period. I am their Mother, that is my job.

    • Samantha V

      @Amber I am also a doula, and a student midwife, and a UC supporter.

      Historically women have been supported by other women. We have lost that. Birth is taboo and dysfunctional. When women were allowed to be with others they had seen birth as it was a normal biological event! There was no medical training birth was just normal!

      Historically birth has a bad wrap but most death most dysfunction has a source. Childbed fever was caused by doctors, rickets (thus pelvic deformity and true CPD) was malnutrition. In general we have healthy women with healthy babies. We couldnt be in a better position to birth unassisted!

      Birth works, women work, babies work. As Carla Hartley says birth is safer than not, intervention is riskier than not. Women are smart enough to do the best for them, they are smart enough to chose anyone or no one.

  • R.

    As a student midwife, I fully support a woman’s choice to UC. I myself, have considered it to great lengths because I don’t believe being around someone “medically trained” did me any good, in fact it made things worse. My body is something that I know, inside and out and my husband is well aware of changes as well. A woman doesn’t just wake up and decide to UC, she educates herself and her partner. Women make lists of “this is normal, this is not and ICE” and post around the house. They even collect blood from various places to see what a normal amount of blood on chux pads or in water looks like as compared to too much. I’m curious if you’ve done that as a student midwife, I know that I have not. Could I tell you what is probably too much or “ok”? Yes, but I haven’t studied it.
    I know that with this pregnancy, all I want is to be alone to have my baby. Where it’s safe and I can concentrate on myself and my baby. If I could wander off into the woods for a week and come back with a baby, I would! I’m not quite sure what having a medical professional there will do for me that I can’t do for myself or my husband can do. He can hold the baby off a prolapsed cord, cut off and ice down a piece of placenta if I hemmorage, take me or the baby the block to the hospital if need be.

    And as for women delivering alone — what’s the difference between women in history delivering with other women who only had the experience of having children vs women who are UC-ing? There weren’t trained attendents through history who would even be close to a “qualified medical professional” that we look to today. If you were female and had a child, you were more than qualified to help a laboring woman, that’s still a far cry from even a midwife. 🙂

  • Nathalie

    Hi Amber!

    I choose UC and agree with you, there is always some risk with giving birth. A
    part of that choice was to accept that risk. And, to be responsible, try to exclude all known risk factors like pre-eclampsia, diabetes, previa, problematic presentation, infections, vaginal herpes etc.

    Ok, something could still go wrong, but the risk was low and acceptable for me. As you cannot say you’re absolutely safe in a hospital. There is still a risk. And my choice was to accept that risk and to have an UC.

    I would never ask someone to have a UC if she isn’t ok with that risk. And my husband was there, and he would have called for emergency if needed. A lot of emergencies are not to be handled in the very second… but I’m aware that some are.

    The same way, I decided to trust my intuition. I “knew” everything was ok… and would have I felt that “something” is wrong, I would have left for the hospital.

    I also read to make sure I understand how a physiological birth goes, what factors put you at more risk and what not (for example, keeping the mother and child warm after birth reduces the hemorrhage risk, as does breasfeeding right after birth).

    And midwifes have to follow some protocol, transfer in certain conditions, and I would have been transfered, even with a hand off midwife, only because the birth took place 48 hours after the water bag broke. I didn’t put anything into my vagina and kept the outside clean until birth… and I watched the water color and didn’t have fever. I also checked the babies temp very often after birth, to make sure he got no infection.

    I knew there was still a risk something went wrong, accepted it, also did my husband. And I had the feeling I did my best to avoid possible risks…

    And in the history, women who birthed at home weren’t checked during pregnancy, could have had eclampsia, diabetes, problematic presentations, malnutrition, and so on… and that was a problem for the birth as this wasn’t checked before the birth took place.

    That was enough to make me feel safer than in a hospital.

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