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.