by Kazue Koyanagi
Imagine a birth where the woman herself determines the course of labor -- how and where to give birth, when to push, what positions to be in and who, if anyone, to have present.
Unassisted childbirth, also known as "freebirthing," is a growing trend in the United States and the UK.
You might wonder why anyone would consider having their baby without an attendant. Chris shares her reasons why she chose to have an unassisted birth -- risks and all.
"Home birth with a midwife is illegal in my state. I don't want to sneak drinks of water from the bathroom sink, I don't want to have to tell nurses, 'No, I don't want a cervical check,' I don't want to wear their hospital gown, I want to walk, really walk, not just 20 paces down this boring hall, 20 paces back. I want to eat. I want to lay on my bed or the couch or the freaking kitchen floor if it suits me. I just want to be at home."
Unlike home births attended by a midwife or other medical professionals, an unassisted birth might be attended by family, friends, a partner or no one.
Women who chose to birth free of medical supervision say that giving birth is a natural phenomena. It's best done without interruptions from machines, medicine and tests. They trust their bodies, their babies and their intuition.
This argument doesn't go far with critics. Opponents say that birthing without a knowledgeable attendant can be risky and in some cases, fatal.
• Familiar surroundings: You can choose to remain at home or another place where you're comfortable. You have control over who is present for the birth.
• Eliminates unwanted interruptions: Birthing advocates, such as Laura Shanley, believe that childbirth is inherently safe, provided the mom doesn't live in poverty and the birth is free of physical or psychological interventions.
• May prevent complications: Lack of interventions might reduce complications associated with improperly used obstetric procedures.
• It is legal in the United States. Just as you can refuse medical care during pregnancy, you also have complete control over your medical care during child birth. In some states, a home birth with a midwife is against the law; unassisted childbirth is allowed by law.
• Low cost: If you're without health insurance or have minimal coverage, this option can decrease your birthing costs.
• Medical complications can occur quickly. Risks range from mom hemorrhagging to the baby getting a lack of oxygen during birth.
• Transport length: If a life-threatening emergency arises, each minute counts. In most cases, moms have advanced warning that allows time to decide how to ensure her and her baby's safety.
• Worry: You might feel uncomfortable without a medical professional or uneasy about giving birth unassisted.
• Obtaining a birth certificate: In some states, filing for a birth certificate can be complex. You might want to check your state laws, download the applicable forms and gather the required documentation before the birth.
Would you choose to birth alone or with friends and family present? Do you think it's dangerous or should be done more often? We want to hear from you!