A Baby Born on Wednesday, post 1

Author’s note: Our new baby was born at home in our bedroom this past Wednesday without a birth attendant present. No name (yet). No weight (we don’t own a scale). No midwives. This week’s posts from Monday to Friday will be the story of how we came to choose an unassisted birth and about the birth itself. To read the whole story, please check back daily.


“The thing is, I don’t know if I really want a midwife,” I said to James when I was nearly five months pregnant and still had not chosen anyone.

“Oh God.” He furrowed his brow and looked unhappy.

We’d been having “conversations” like this one for months. Every time we interviewed a midwife, James would say, “Great! She seems great,” and I would hesitate.

The midwives were great—I liked every one I talked to on the phone and the three I met in person. They all seemed smart and knowledgeable and compassionate and interested, definitely women I’d like to have as friends.

The problem wasn’t with the midwives.

It was with me.

Though I liked all these women, I didn’t want them touching my belly or sticking their fingers up my yaya or telling me what to eat or to have blood work done.

No one had been in the room when James and I conceived our baby. I was beginning to feel like childbirth is as private and intimate as making love and I had trouble imagining having anyone else present.

“I don’t think I want anyone at the birth,” I tried to explain to my worried husband. “I think I want to do it by myself. With you.”

There’s a term for this: Unassisted childbirth. Some people call it “unhindered birth” or “free birth.” There’s a forum on Mothering.com dedicated to it. And some incredible Websites about it.

I started reading everything I could about childbirth—hippie books from the 1970s about home births, manuals written for emergency medical professionals in case they unexpectedly have to deliver a baby, unassisted birth stories on the Internet and in magazines, classics like Spiritual Midwifery, and a book by Laura Shanley called Unassisted Childbirth—and talking to women who had had successful unassisted births.

The more I read, the more convinced I became that we could have the birth we wanted, by ourselves, without anyone guiding us, interfering, or telling us what to do. And the more I read, the more I thought about my three previous birth experiences, and how I wanted this one to be different.

But James wasn’t completely on board. I knew what I wanted, but how could I convince my husband?

Interested in reading more? Post 2 tells the story of our first home birth attended by midwives.

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18 thoughts on “A Baby Born on Wednesday, post 1”

  1. How very cool! I’ve always thought I would never be able to have an unassisted birth. And the experiences I had with my midwives at the Greenhouse Birth Center in Michigan were so good that I never saw any reason to do it another way.

    On the other hand, the midwife I used (different from my other out-of-hospital births; I’ve moved) at my last birth stressed me out for the last 3 months of my pregnancy. She seemed to be in worst-case-scenario mode from the outset and I found myself panicking over my blood pressure (holding steady at, um, 100/70) and other potential problems in a way I’d never done before. There were other issues I won’t go into here, but the whole experience has left me wondering if I wouldn’t have been better off going it alone.

    I think that my husband would have been the deciding factor against unassisted birth–he’s very supportive of my choices, but I don’t think he would want to take such total responsibility for them. And I kind of enjoy being able to blissfully “check out” and get to know my baby, which you’re only able to do when you really trust your attendant’s judgment and skill.

    Can’t wait to hear more!
    .-= Meagan Francis´s last blog ..does venting make moms feel better? =-.

  2. While I can’t imagine this for myself, I think you are amazing to have the courage and conviction to do it your way. Great story – looking forward to the rest!

  3. My husband and I were always convinced we could deliver a baby in a car if we had to, but never took the step you did. Congrats!

  4. I don’t think I could do this myself either, but I think it is definitely right for some women. I’ll be following along!

  5. You know, before I had my first baby I thought I never could give birth without an epidural. Before I had my second baby I thought I could never do a home birth. Now that we’re considering number three … it somehow doesn’t seem so scary. Can’t wait to read more!
    .-= Katherine´s last blog ..Giveaway for CurrentMom Conference in Florida =-.

  6. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t do this myself. Not that hip. Not that cool. Not that brave. LOL

    But I want to know how you did it, so I’ll keep reading.
    .-= Jackie Dishner´s last blog ..Slow down, world. =-.

  7. I am a midwife currently working in a hospital, but I’ve assisted with home births for 20 years and feel that’s where my heart still lies.

    If women understood what a hospital birth generally involves, they would realize that the truly brave are the ones who put themselves on hospital territory. The hospital staff have a saying, “You buy the hospital ticket. . .you get the hospital ride”.

    As a midwife, I try to protect my clients as much as possible from the hospital routines and interventions, but there are aspects that are out of my control. Yes, mothers can refuse procedures and interventions that the hospital requires, but this sets up an adversarial atmosphere, not conducive to a peaceful birth. Hospitals don’t hesitate to make things difficult for women who are “non-compliant”, going as far as obtaining court orders to ensure that women are forced to birth the way the all-knowing physicians see fit.

    I understand your desire for an unattended home birth. My goal as a midwife, when I am at a birth, is to be as unobtrusive as possible. I am the employee of the woman in labor. My role is not to be the director/producer of the show, but to be waiting in the wings, ready to serve if and when I am needed. A good birth is one where the mom looks at me and says, “I am glad you were here, but I could have done it without you!” And I tell her, “You just did!”

  8. I have a friend who had all of her children at home – they were all fine, though one ended up needing to be torn from the sack before he could breathe. My friend knew instinctively what to do about it, and all was well.

    Women have been having babies for thousands of years, long before there were doctors or even midwives. I think we can handle it, though we’re taught by society these days that it’s a big, scary thing that we’re not equipped to handle. Annoying.

    You did an amazing thing, lady!
    .-= Stephanie – Wasabimon´s last blog ..Roasting the Bird, Part 2

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