Unassited Homebirth with a midwife? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 16 Old 10-22-2003, 12:27 AM - Thread Starter
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Is it possible to have an unassisted homebirth with a midwife present? I want to have an unassisted homebirth...but, my dh is uncomfortable with that...he would prefer a midwife be present...is it possible that a midwife would attend but only involve herself if complications happen?

I want to birth my next *myself* along with dh..I don't want a coach or to be told when to push or someone checking me to see how far along I am...I want to catch my own baby..but, have a midwife present...is this possible..would that still be considered an unassisted/Zion birth?
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#2 of 16 Old 10-22-2003, 03:13 AM
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I'm not too sure about Zion births (I think that you're better of unassisted than Zion), but I will say that it's hard to find a midwife that will feel comfortable with sitting in another room. It's not impossible, just not the easiest.

I think that blueviolet here has some good ideas about getting partners comfortable with unassisted birth. Many times, the partners feel like they will expected to be the midwife - when in fact, that's not the case at all. Once they figure that out, they're pretty relieved and usually willing to support you as your partner and lover, rather than "coach" or "midwife".

I've been on call for people for their UA births. Calling around to find someone who might be willing to do this could help.
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#3 of 16 Old 10-22-2003, 12:46 PM
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What you are describing sounds a lot like my last birth. I saw a MW through my entire pregnancy and I really enjoyed the support she gave me. However, I didn't think I really wanted anyone fussing over me during labor & birth. I wrote specific things in my birth plan and expectations of her that I wanted DH and I to be left alone and that we would let her know if we wanted/needed her. I also waited a while before I let DH call her. She ended up getting here about 30 minutes before the actual birth. She watched me have a contraction and told me I was doing a great job, she suggested I sit on the birthing stool I had asked her to bring but other than that she was absent. She never checked me once, she did check for heart tones one time. When my water broke she told DH to start filling the tub and reminded me to reach down and feel for my baby.
The nice part was having her there afterwards. After checking me out and later the baby she prepared an herbal bath for us, took care of puting the placenta in the freezer and cleaned up. She gave DH some instructions before leaving and then she was gone. She came back 24 hours later to check on us.
It was perfect for us and the best of both worlds.


 Keri wife and Mama to  Cory 17,  Brendan 15,  Kerianne 8,  Avery 7,  Lilia 3
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#4 of 16 Old 10-22-2003, 01:32 PM
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I have pretty much the same situation as keri, my midwife is very hands off if you want her to be, she'll even hang out outside (weather permitting) if I needed space. I don't think that it would be all that hard to find a midwife like this. I would just really check around with all the midwives you can find and ask.
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#5 of 16 Old 10-22-2003, 06:53 PM
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Those who practice Zion birth denounce medicine, in other words if something goes wrong they pray instead of go to the hospital. Also I think it is common with Zion birth to have a midwife there, but I don't know exactly what role she plays (whether it is direct guidance or just praying.) So Zion birth is medically unassisted but unassisted birth is NOT necessarily Zion birth; in fact I'd say that the majority of unassisted births are not Zion births. In my experience, most people planning an unassisted birth plan to get medical help if they need it, and also, the vast majority of unassisted births are either solo or with only close family and/or friends present.

For my second birth I had a midwife and her assistant present for the last two hours of the labor (and for a few hours after.) The midwife's involvement was: telling me when it was safe to get int the tub, checking heart tones a couple of times, suggesting getting into a squat to push, helping bring the baby up out of the water onto my stomach, and worrying a little when the placenta didn't come right away. I was not coached, my dilation was not checked, contractions were not timed, I was not told when to push, and I caught the baby myself. Compared to the amount of involvement midwives usually have, I think most people would consider that birth practically unassisted. However, I was looking to the midwife to safeguard the situation and therefore was alert to whatever advice she might have, and that of course interfered with my ability to go within and listen to my body. The other thing that interfered was simply her presence. I was self-conscious, both host and performer. So regardless of what degree of "assisted" or "unassisted" we want to call it, it was not unhindered.

I know that if I asked this same midwife to attend me again, she would wait on the porch or in another room until/if I needed her, and I have heard stories of other midwives doing the same, or to just check heart tones at agreed-upon times, or whatever. Would that be "unassisted"? Well, everybody defines it differently, so I can't say, nor do I personally care. What I *do* think important to figure out is whether any particular action of the midwife, or her presence alone, will adversely affect the labor and postpartum.

If you think not, then you don't have a problem, right?, and you can humor your husband by hiring a midwife. But you already know that, and you are still talking about how you would like to have an unassisted birth, so you must have your reasons for thinking it best. I'd suggest introducing it to your husband slowly -- don't even mention the word "unassisted"!, but instead get him used to the reasoning that supports it. I read to my husband passages from articles by Sarah Buckley on the chemistry of birth, articles and books by Michel Odent (a physician who goes into some detail about why observed births malfunction), Emergency Childbirth by Gregory White (another doctor who has a refreshingly relaxed attitude about birth), Lynn Griesemer, Marilyn Moran, Laura Shanley, etc., and I showed him videos of attended and unattended homebirths while pointing out the differences. We also discussed what I didn't like about my previous births and what I wanted for the next one. It wasn't long before he made the connection between what ideal, safe birth is/needs, and what we needed to do to allow it to be that.

(edited for spelling errors. Ack!)
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#6 of 16 Old 10-23-2003, 06:54 PM
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clap-clap-clap blueviolet.

After learning in this forum about "unassisted childbirth", in my opinion when I look back at my home birth, it was very unassisted, or as blueviolet says, unhindered. I didn't feel self-concious.

No coaching (maybe a few 'you're doing greats' and 'that's your baby' but no cheerleader stuff!) no cervix checks no nonsense.

I felt that their presence HELPED me be unassisted and unhindered, because there was no "what if" in the back of my mind, because I did want mws there 'in case.' That's me.

FUNNY observation: I had my birth videotaped, and when I watch the video, I am suprised at the presence of my midwives--when I was birthing, I was looking at dh, doing my thing...the mws were behind me. So they are prominant in the frame of the tv screen, but since they were behind me during the birth, I didn't see them.

So I think, yeah, you can have a UC w/ a mw. I'm sure the UCers would disagree, and that's okay! I don't think it's possible to have a 'natural' birth in a hosptial!
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#7 of 16 Old 10-26-2003, 10:16 AM
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"So I think, yeah, you can have a UC w/ a mw. I'm sure the UCers would disagree, and that's okay! I don't think it's possible to have a 'natural' birth in a hosptial!"


I have had 1 hospital birth, and 3 homebirths.

My hospital birth was almost a bradley birth....not completely horrible, but it ended with a forceps delivery and a 4th degree tear.

My second birth was a HB attended by a wonderful lay-midwife, She was only there for about 20 minutes before my ds was born, but she was very calming. She was just what I needed at that time. It was a very hands-off birth.

My third birth was another HB. I decided to take more control and demand even more privacy. I had learned by this time that privacy was what *I* needed to have a sucessful and enjoyable birth. Privacy was what was lacking in my first birth which made it so horrible, and privacy is whatI had during my second birth that made it so sucessful. The midwife arrived when I was in transition. She observed a few contractions told me we were doing fine. She left the room. I push my dd out into my dh's hands(as planned). The midwife came in and checked the baby out and did all of the usual clean up stuff. It was an awesome birth.

My fourth birth was much like my second except that I never even saw the midwife until after the birth. She had arrived at my house about an hour before the actual birth, but she stayed out of the room...as requested. It was a very easy labor and birth. My ds was born in the caul into my dh's hands. After a few minutes we asked the midwife to come and check on the baby...help with the placenta ect. It was also another awesome birth.

I know that UC with a midwife is a very real possibility. I made my needs known to my midwife well in advance of the birth. I was very upfront about my need for privacy. They knew that I was very knowledgable about the birth process. They knew that I wanted them there in case I decided that something wasn't right or if I felt that I needed them. They knew that they were there as "lifeguards"....not to try to teach me to swim! I think that there are a lot of midwives out there that can respect that. (I haven't found one that wouldn't)

My dh knows that I need my privacy, and he knows that he has to be my advocate when I am in labor. I am not good at voicing my needs during that time. He knows that his job is to keep people away from me unless I am specific about wanting them around. His job is not to be my midwife, but just my support. He is amazing!!

In the end, it is my house and my birth. I have always felt that if a midwife was truely doing something that I didn't want her to do, and I couldn't stand her being around then I can always ask her to leave.

I hope that you will be able to have the birth that you want. Make everyone aware of what *your needs* are. Make them stick to it! Hopefully your dp can be your advocate and make sure that your needs are met...especially during labor. Gook luck to you!!!

Here's a link to picts from our most recent birth...if you look, you will notice that there isn't a midwife to be found in any of them. She was there, but more like a fly on the wall.

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#8 of 16 Old 10-26-2003, 03:02 PM
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it's so wonderful to hear these stories! I have yet to meet very few midwives that will attend a birth like that. It really gives me hope that they are out there.
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#9 of 16 Old 10-28-2003, 01:17 AM
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I've been lurking at this thread and wanted to thank you all for sharing! This sounds exactly like what I want the next time around!!!
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#10 of 16 Old 10-28-2003, 02:28 AM
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I wanted to add how wonderful it was to have that "extra" woman there to add energy, experience and encouragement to the last hour when I was off in labor-land and my dh was at a loss having never "been there" before.
She cleaned up the bathroom/tub house (there was blood from one end to the other, no kidding!), did 3 loads of laundry, cleaned the baby up with my dh and showed him how to swaddle her (while I was lying in bed resting, bleeding and devouring anything edible in sight!) Then she made us food and went to the health store to pick up a few things for my tears, helped with bf'ing, did the dishes, took some pics and stayed the night on our couch in case I needed her. Anyways, I think the presence of another woman certainly adds to the experience. She did all the dirty work so dh and I could just hold the baby, cuddle and be in the moment.
Who cares whether someone would label it "unassisted" or not, what matters is that you do what feels right and what you are comfortable with. This is YOUR labor,YOUR body and YOU know whats best for you and your baby!
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#11 of 16 Old 11-22-2003, 12:25 AM
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I have wanted an unassisted birth since my last baby was born. I really felt hindered by the mw we had. I thought "No midwife will sit and let me give birth without needing to do something." Well, I may have been wrong. I met a wonderful mw on-line who happens to live in my city, and when I spoke with her, she said "So you basicaly want a UC with someone in another room." I was so relieved. I will discuss it with her more in depth, but it is possible it could be a workable compromise between dh and I.
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#12 of 16 Old 11-23-2003, 03:31 PM
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Wildthing -- that's awesome! How fortunate. In your area, too. That's just so wonderful! Congrats!

Spark and her four firecrackers.
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#13 of 16 Old 12-29-2003, 05:35 AM
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LOL...this is *kind of* what happened for us

I had been seeing our midwives throughout the pregnancy. I had really initially wanted an unassisted birth. I wanted it private really. I know I surrender when I have an audience. But, dh was not at all comfortable with that thought or even the homebirth in the beginning. As he became more comfortable with the homebirth attended by midwifes I was becoming so much more comfortable already with the birth being totally unassisted only dh and dd (3yrs 9mos) present. I didn't even really want my mom there only to attend to dd if needed and that was a hard thought for me.

Long story short..ok not so short . We had midwifes although not present at the birth and when I started feeling labor come on...I started cramping and then put dd down for a nap and called dh home from work *thinking* it *might* be IT. I really kept putting the "call" into the midwifes off. I just kept saying: "It's just VERY early labor" I don't want to call yet. Everyone kept saying to at least call them and let them know I was in labor. I didn't want to! I was on a wave and enjoyed riding it SOLO. So I finally called and said I thought I was in EARLY labor. Well our MW decided to nap before coming over as I had expressed that there was no urgency in her coming and I was fine alone. So she said call when things picked up a bit. Well....I waited and waited until literally I was on the toilet in transition for dh to call. He was the one that finally said...do you think I should call her???? I said whatever that is fine...and 3 min later I was grunting "I'm pushing". So she came 10min after I pushed ds out into the world into dh's loving hands with my dd coaching me telling me what was going on: "Mommy, I can see some birth blood...oh I see it's head how cute". We did it as a family and it was AMAZING and EMPOWERING!

Our midwife showed up 10 min after ds was born. I needed a couple of stiches and they cleaned up everything and I had a happy audience to tell my story to. It was PERFECT!
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#14 of 16 Old 01-04-2004, 02:55 PM
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I think it depends on the MW. Mine is very hands off and only will help if its necessary. She wants to do perineal support and masage to help prevent tearing. I have a gf who is going to be my doula and she will help, too. I am like you, I want a pro there just in case, but not telling me what to do. Suggestions are fine, words of wisdom, but not like last time in my hospital birth.

I think you can have a MW there and still be UA.
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#15 of 16 Old 01-05-2004, 12:59 PM
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You can do this, but I wouldn't call it a UC. Because it is assisted. Nothing wrong with that, in fact that's just how our youngest's birth was. I think of it as "semi-assisted" or assisted only when I wanted it to be, which was very nice for us. We did do it on our own, but dh liked having the mw around (called her after I'd been pushing for a bit, she did some heart-monitoring and left to wait in another room, returning to catch, only at our asking because of my position--which I would not change--and total exhaustion

This time, we're playing it by ear. I hope to be less exhausted and not feel that I should have another person there.: That's what I hoped last time too, but was so out of it tired I really did like having her there, so I could pass out after the birth and not have to worry about anything. (dh was nearly as tired as I was) She thankfully didn't talk to us, I can't stand people talking when I'm in labor or having to answer questions then.

I don't see that it would be difficult to find a woman able to support you without having her own agenda for your birth I did and the first person I considered too. I guess it depends on what kind of area you live in, and if you have more than a few mw's to choose from. My mw wasn't certified at the time, so she had fewer restrictions. I think her attitude has changed a bit since becomming "legal"

Best Wishes, Carrie
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#16 of 16 Old 01-10-2004, 03:52 PM
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The two midwives that "attended" my birth pretty much just sat by the foot of the bed, watching me with these huge smiles on their faces. They made a few suggestions, and told me I was doing a great job, but that was about it.
I don't think it would be that hard to find a midwife that fits what you want - or am I just naive and lucky?
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