Well, I've only just skimmed this thread for the most part, but I wanted to add my own two cents/experience. :)
First of all, why do I choose UC. I've never given birth in a hospital, I don't hate doctors, and I'm not afraid of hospitals. In fact, the one time I've seen an OB for this pregnancy, I loved him. He was great, and he not only supported my decision to UP but also to UC. Although, the thought of having to fight around hospital protocol when I'm in labor does not sound fun to me, and I'd venture to guess that I'd probably just have stalled labors if I tried going in to a hospital to give birth. Anyway, my reasoning is simply that it's what has always seemed right to me, for me. Here's something I typed up a while ago regarding my decisions:
Ever since I was a kid, I was always very interested in babies, pregnancy, and birth. I always envisioned myself giving birth in a quiet space where I felt comfortable - all alone. That when I did eventually get pregnant, when I went into labor I wouldn't tell anyone, I'd just find my comfortable place and wait for my baby to come. I never gave it any intensive thought though, these were just fleeting thoughts that I had.
Fast forward to my first pregnancy (fall of 2009). Once pregnant, I realized that I would eventually have to give birth, and I started thinking about how I wanted to birth at home. It didn't really cross my mind to try and find a midwife. Either way, I began researching birth, and I came across some freebirth/unassisted childbirth websites, and I was like, Yes, this is what I want!! I was so excited that I wasn't alone in wanting to birth by myself. Furthermore, I didn't fear birth and I was so excited to experience it.
One thing that was alarming (and surprising) to me were all of the routine interventions they do in the hospital to laboring women, and how all of these interventions can really upset the birth process and cause complications. I wanted to avoid this at all costs, because the health of my baby and myself were of utmost importance to me, and I felt that I was actually lowering my risk if I birthed outside of the hospital.
As I researched more and more (and read birth stories and watched birth videos), I was even more set in my decision to birth unassisted, mostly because I realized that I was not a good candidate for hospital birth. I would not be a "good patient," and I would absolutely hate the experience. No way was anyone going to be bothering me when I was in labor, at such an intense, special time in my life. I needed to be completely in control, and I didn't want to have to tell anyone to back off with whatever they wanted to stick up or in me. It would very much upset me to have to fight people while I'm in labor, and I felt I might not be able to say no if all I could do was focus on contractions.
I also know now that what is good for the mother is good for the baby.
The birth experience was definitely very important to me. I knew that birth could be wonderful. I wanted a lovely, powerful, calm experience while meeting my child. I worried about bonding, and I knew that the best chance I had at bonding was having a natural, undisturbed birth.
So let's talk about safety. We all know that with birth, or really anything in our world, there comes risk. Risk of things not going our way, risk of death. We risk death just by being alive. The key is to just reduce risk as much as possible. Going to a hospital to give birth is not always the best way to reduce risk for any one labor or birth, but it certainly can be. It depends on the situation and the individuals in question. Generally, I think home birth (unassisted or not) is safer than hospital birth. I don't think that can be said of every situation, I just think that hospital birth should be the exception and not the rule. I also believe that birthing with a trained birth attendant present is generally safer than not. Unassisted birth should also be the exception and not the rule, which it pretty much is. I will not tell someone that is not interested in birthing UA in the first place that that's something she should consider. Some women want support persons and/or medical personnel. Some don't. I personally thought I'd want a few friends/family members to be there for my births. Truth is, I don't. It just causes me a bunch of anxiety.
As far as breech birth goes? I believe that vaginal breech birth is generally safer than breech birth by cesarean. Each carries its own set of risks, of course. But generally, there are less associated with vaginal birth, and that goes for the mother baby pair, not just the mother, and not just the baby. Would I feel comfortable giving birth to a breech babe unassisted? Absolutely. Would I tell someone else to? Probably not.
I believe that the safest birth is birth that is completely on the mother's terms. Safe birth happens when a woman feels loved, supported, cared for, comfortable, safe, etc. Safe birth happens when the person that is giving birth is in control. Another big thing is health. Safe birth happens when you are healthy, mentally and physically. When you give your body what it needs to function normally, it will most likely function normally. And vice versa. So not only does maternity care in the U.S. suck, but a lot of people have health problems these days. We are constantly bombarded with toxins and carcinogens through our food, water, air, and environment in general. Some people choose to put bad things in their body, even if they know it's bad for them.
For me, I've always had good health. I generally stay away from things that are bad for me as best I can, I eat healthy, and I keep mentally healthy. I have a very healthy view of birth - in other words, I do not fear it, but at the same time, I respect it. I believe my body is going to work for me, and it has. I am very in tune with my body, and I trust that I will know the best course of action for it better than anyone else ever could. I have had a set of twins and a singleton (due with a fourth any day) completely unassisted. Short labors. Easy births. No serious complications. I don't think it was luck, as I am of the belief that everything in our universe is based on cause and effect. Everything that happens, happens as a result of a cause. I am also of the belief that whatever you hold in your mind most strongly will come true. It is amazing how our bodies will respond to our thoughts and feelings. A good example is someone vomiting from anxiety, or getting a headache just from sheer stress.
I'm a good candidate for UC. Most people are not. Part of that is probably a cultural thing, but even so, most cultures involve experienced birth attendants at each birth, medically trained or not. I will not say that we are completely like animals (even though we are still just animals) and can just go off somewhere alone and push out a baby. Some of us can do that, but most of us want someone there, as we are an extremely complex, social species. And though birth is fairly difficult for our species, I don't think we were designed more poorly than any other species.
Anyway, I hope I'm making sense. I just wanted to add one more thing that I was explaining to someone the other day. One reason I believe that unassisted childbirth generally works so well:
You would be surprised how our bodies work together with those of our babies when we are left to labor on our own (not necessarily alone, but on our own) naturally and move however we see fit. I think one really important thing, physiology aside, is allowing a mother to enter an altered state of mind I like to call "labor land." In this state, it not only makes it much easier to deal with contractions, but it also makes it easier for the mother to delve deep inside herself so she knows exactly what to do (in this state, as long as she didn't have any distractions or someone suggesting things to her, a mother would know if she needed help) and what she's feeling. I have been told that I look very calm and collected in my birth video with Maribel. Well, that's why: labor land. If I had a lot of distractions and drugs that were messing up my hormones, it would make it extremely difficult to reach this state of mind. And thus, labor would become unbearable. I wouldn't be able to focus on just getting my baby out.