“Just as a woman’s heart knows how and when to pump, her lungs to inhale, and her hand to pull back from fire, so she knows when and how to give birth.”
— Virginia Di Orio
You’ve probably met at least one mother or set of parents who birthed their child at home with the assistance of a midwife, doula, or home-birthing OBGYN… but have you met any children who were born at home without the assistance of anyone beyond their parents? This practice of unassisted childbirth is referred to as “free birthing.”
According to the women behind Free Birth Society, Emilee Saldaya and Yolande Clark, “Free birth is choosing to navigate your pregnancy and childbirth with no medical management. Women choose this path because it is the only way to ensure the chance of having an undisturbed, normal, physiological birth — which is inarguably optimal for the vast majority of mothers and babies.”
Laura Shanley, author of Unassisted Childbirth is a birth consultant, author, and speaker who states: “Drugs, machinery, and medical personnel are not only unnecessary in most cases, they are also no match for a woman’s own intellect and intuition. Birth is sexual and spiritual, magical and miraculous — but not when it’s managed, controlled, and manipulated by the medical establishment or hindered by the mother’s own mind.”
Birth according to you —
Free birth is essentially welcoming your baby earthside with (or without) whomever you choose, wherever you wish, and however you’d like. Simply put, it’s birth according to you. Your baby is not “delivered” to you or extracted and then handed to you, rather your baby births themselves connected through you, with an innate, shared, and intuitive, physical and spiritual power.
Whether you agree with this practice or not, the growing trend of unassisted child-birthing is on the rise not only in the US, but also in the UK, Finland, Sweden, and Australia. When queried, many women simply report that birth is natural, not a medical concern, and if they were healthy before and throughout pregnancy, medical intervention is unnecessary for birth.
If you stop to think about it for a moment, birth is one of the only visits to the hospital healthy people make. For many, it seems counterintuitive that a healthy person brimming with life would visit a place where sick people go.
For some, it’s a combination of stats and the body’s healthy wisdom that keep them from visiting hospitals to birth their babies. With the largest number of deaths related to childbirth each year occurring in the US — both in hospital and home settings — many expecting mothers and parents have lost confidence in the idea that a hospital or even midwife-attended birth is the ideal setting or circumstance to give birth. Often, it was their previous hospital births or lack of tangible help from prior midwives that prompted their following births to take place at home.
Alicia H. from Ojai, California shared that her first birth was very “lights, camera action” at the hospital. When she arrived her doctor was nowhere to be found and her birth was attended by strangers coming in and out in a brightly lit, tiny room. Alicia, who is a doctor herself, is very healthy and advocated for herself by refusing almost all medical interventions, and still was badgered by staff even after producing her birth plan signed by her personal OBGYN. While Alicia says no trauma was experienced, she thought it was ridiculous that hospital staff, instead of coaching on her body’s intuitive confidence, instead argued with her about her refusal of an episiotomy. Alicia credited her hypnobirthing practice with what allowed her to stay in her power.
When Alicia became pregnant with her second child she decided on a calm “hands off” unassisted birth in her home with her husband. No doubt existed that this was the best decision for her and her baby considering she was healthy and understood the repercussions should something go wrong.
So what about the risk?
Risk is a biased concept that can be spun in any direction, especially related to the sensitive subject of birth. I had my daughter at home because of all I’d experienced working in hospitals over the years. I minimized any perceived risks by birthing my daughter privately in the comfort of our home in the presence of the loved ones of my choosing.
Friends asked me many “But what if?” questions in the weeks preceding my daughter’s birth — “What if the umbilical cord is wrapped around her neck?” “What if her breathing rate fluctuates?” “What if you just can’t do it, then what?” I answered with a confident: “My body will tell me what to do and I will intuitively respond to any perceived risk.” I didn’t want to risk contracting a virus in the hospital, or be touched by strangers, or risk having my one-minute old baby be stuck with an unauthorized vaccine. I felt those were my perceived risks of having a baby in the hospital… and those risks didn’t exist at home.
What everyone planning to experience any type of home-birth — whether assisted or not — should know is that no matter what you plan, if your intuition is telling you that you may need medical intervention, don’t be upset or second guess yourself. It is always okay to transfer to a hospital or call in help if things change at home. The best way to minimize risk is to get help if you think you need it.
Considering birthing your way, but looking for support? For those considering free birthing, Free Birth Society offers a comprehensive coaching program to help personalize the self-guided experience. Think you could do it? Check out these radical free birthing stories for inspiration.
Was your child born unassisted at home? Are you a birthing professional who has a story to share about free birthing?
Christine Dionese, co-founder of flavor ID is an integrative health and food therapy specialist, as well as a wellness, lifestyle, and food journalist. She has dedicated her career to helping others understand the science of happiness and its powerful effects on everyday human health by harnessing the power of the epigenetic landscape. Christine lives, works, and plays in Southern California with her daughter and husband.