You as a free citizen have the right to make your own autonomous choices about pregnancy and birth. You are entitled to be informed of all the available research and alternatives. You are free to choose hospital birth, home birth, or birth in a natural setting. You are free to choose a doctor, certified nurse-midwife or direct entry midwife, or no birth attendant at all. There is no law against choosing to birth outside the hospital and without a caregiver. There are licensing laws for midwives in some states, but that’s an issue for the midwife, not the birthing woman. Even in states that don’t license direct entry midwives, those midwives often still provide discreet services to pregnant women and families.
Space would not allow me to list all the studies which shed light on the safety of prepared childbirth in a home setting. This is one of the most recent:
“Perinatal or Neonatal Mortality Among Women Who Intend at the Onset of Labour to Give Birth at Home Compared to Women of Low Obstetrical Risk Who Intend to Give Birth in Hospital: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses“
The first objection to unassisted birth is safety. Wouldn’t it be safer in the hospital? Women have been having babies unassisted for literally millions of years. The human race would not have survived this long if birth was not inherently safe. A woman’s body has been programmed genetically to know how to give birth, and in the absence of dangerous interventions, it usually works out just fine. With just a little education, the birthing woman can be prepared to know when things are going well, and when it’s time to go to the hospital.
Yes, the hospital has it’s place. But in the majority of births it is unnecessary. Even if you did not see a doctor or midwife for prenatal care, if you present at the emergency room, the hospital cannot deny you admittance, even without insurance.
For years I gathered statistics from women who had birthed unassisted because no one else seemed to be keeping those stats. Here is a summary of those statistics.
Number of total births – 264
Average number of weeks gestation at time of birth – 40.34
36 weeks – 1.99%
37 weeks -2.96%
38 weeks – 5.47%
39 weeks – 15.42%
40 weeks – 34.82%
41 weeks – 19.40%
42 weeks – 5.97%
43 weeks – 1.49%
44 weeks – 1.49%
Unknown gestational age – 3.96%
Lowest birth weight – 5 lb 7 pz
Highest birth weight – 12 lb 0 oz
Received Medical Prenatal Care – 53.23%
Average number of prenatal visits – 4.63
Performed own prenatal care – 46.76%
Low risk – 54.22%
Moderate risk – 27.36%
High risk – 18.40%
Transported to hospital – 8.45%
Before Birth – 4.97%, After Birth – 3.48%
C-section required – 2 out of 201 (.99%)
(Hospital C-section rates run around 25%, so you can see just how many are unnecessary)
Had newborn examined by doctor after birth – 44.27%
Newborn complications requiring emergency transport – 0
Infant mortality – 0
Average age of mother – 28.63
Attempted / failed UC – 1 out of 201 (.99%)
As you can see, unassisted childbirth can be a viable and safe option. I would suggest getting some education. See our Prenatal Care page for some recommended reading.
Here’s a great video of Laura Stanley, author of the book “Unassisted Childbirth” explaining why birth is inherently safe and is meant to be an experience of empowerment and ecstasy for both mother and child.
Let me hasten to add that in the above stats, about half the respondents did their own prenatal care, but that doesn’t mean they all did blood pressure checks and weigh-ins. As Laura stated in her video, many women choose to trust their bodies and simply eat good food, get fresh air, and exercise, and don’t do any of these checks. It’s up to you.
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