Shock, confusion, and the occasional ‘that’s bad ass’ are the reactions we receive when someone hears our son was born with just my partner and I, at home. Birthing in the absence of a medical professional is known as unassisted childbirth. It is also referred to as unhindered childbirth and free birth.
We planned an unhindered childbirth because my safety and the safety of our son was the biggest priority. Aaron and I love all the reactions. We love to see eyes wide open. We love to see our cultural norms and beliefs challenged. The truth is, I had to challenge my own beliefs about pregnancy and childbirth.
What I came to discover, through mind-combing meditation, conversations with birth professionals, hours of research, and a lot of prayer, is this: Birth is not a medical event, rather it is the ordinary process of women and all life. I have faith in the big picture, the divine-design of the female body, and the everyday experiences we receive because we are meant to.
What did I desire when envisioning my ideal childbirth experience? Instinctively, safety was at the top of the list. I knew I would birth most easily, undisturbed, and free to act as I needed in the comfort of my own home. I also really wanted a mind-blowing-euphoric-life-rocking-transcendental-birth-orgasm. I’m not kidding. I read Orgasmic Childbirth and decided sex during birth sounded great.
I wanted complete freedom to be in any position that felt right, to eat and drink when I wanted, and to be uninhibited by any outside authority. I wanted to turn off my logical-rational mind. I wanted my intuitive nature to turn up and on. I wanted my primal-warrior-goddess to take the lead.
I wanted a serene and peaceful nest. I wanted to cherish every moment of the process. I wanted no fear, no regrets, and I wanted all of my energy focused exclusively on birthing. In my ideal birth scenario there would be zero energy wasted on unexpected visitors, nurses, and authoritative medical professionals (no matter how well-meaning). I wanted to be completely out-of-range of drugs, fetal-monitors, vaccinations, surgical equipment, silver nitrate, and sick folks.
‘Okay, you wanted a homebirth, but why not hire a midwife?’ At first, I wanted to birth with a midwife. I know so many great midwives. I love the work they do. I love that the trend in childbirth is coming back to the home. More women are seeking a system of care that is mother friendly. We decided not to hire a midwife because I felt confident enough in my body and in the process of childbirth to experience it alone.
Whether we had a midwife present or not, our child would be born, and my intuition said we’d have the experience we needed on our own. I also discovered that even some midwives are trained to direct your birth experience and can bring their own doubts along for the ride. I wanted no outside direction of our experience. I just wanted my body to do what it knew to do. I wanted the final say in the entire process. I wanted the power position without having to explain or compromise.
‘But what if there’s an emergency?’ During my pregnancy I asked myself a slightly different version of this question: What’s a real emergency? Going past 40 weeks pregnant didn’t classify. Induction wasn’t my concern. Umbilical cord complications wouldn’t change my desire for a natural homebirth. Even if my son was breech I would have attempted an unassisted homebirth. Nature has its way.
Many women rely on the medical system to tell them what is going on in their own body. Many women go to the hospital, uninformed. Many don’t know what a real emergency is. Many women are unaware that the western medical system causes emergency situations and then doctors arrive with solutions to problems that could have been avoided. Many women put their bodies, their lives, and their children’s well-being into the hands of others without knowing what they, themselves, are truly capable of.
Disclaimer: I’m not here to convince you to birth one way or another. My intention is to inspire trust in the divine-design of the female body. You see, we’re not broken, and we don’t need to be regulated or saved. I believe that Jane Hardwicke Collings said it best: “Childbirth is not an isolated event in a woman's life, it is the culmination of her life to that point: it shows everything about her, her beliefs, her fears.... I think there are no failures in birth, every woman has the birth she needs to have, to learn what she needs to learn, to take her to the next place on her life journey."
I prepared for childbirth alone because I knew it was my challenge. It was my work to do. I read Emergency Childbirth, ecstatic childbirth, and The Labor Progress Handbook. I read Unassisted Childbirth and Birthing From Within. I read Laboring On and the studied the history of childbirth.
I watched birth videos. I learned how much blood was too much to lose. I read about lotus birth and the importance of the placenta for mama and baby. I prepared myself for the possibility of emergency by nourishing myself with herbal tonics and wholesome food. I had shepherd's purse and iron rich infusions on hand. I took charge of my healthcare, pregnancy, and birth experience.
We planned an unassisted homebirth because it was right for us. We used our intuition. We focused on what we wanted and made decisions from a heart-centered place of knowing. We became informed. Research and cultivating our intuition prepared us for the beginning stages of parenting, decision making, self-reliance, and self-discovery. Thanks for witnessing our story. Here's to cultivating trust in: your body, your birth, and your life.