I believe that planning to UC is a very personal choice, and not one done lightly. There are many circumstances that a woman would be compelled to birth on her own with only a select few people to accompany her. Having a licensed midwife or doctor present does not guarantee a positive birth outcome any more than not having them there guarantees complications. It depends on the birthing woman and her child and their health history as well as their attitude and understanding about the birth process. I found that the women who chose to birth on their own (which does not necessarily mean alone, but simply without licensed medical personnel) either had negative previous birth experiences, or they possessed a trust in their bodies as they were designed and did their own research. Or maybe a bit of both.
Birthing without a doctor or a licensed nurse-midwife seems alien to many because we are taught that it is dangerous to do so otherwise and often the explanation of infant and mother mortality and its relation to the dark ages is used as a scare tactic. Any research done on the history of obstetrics (which many uc moms are apt to do) will reveal that many ‘dangers’ in birth occurred after it became handled medically to begin with. It is hygienic, economical, and social factors that actually contributed to dangers in women birthing and not that they were not attended by ‘trained’ professionals. Today when women choose to UC, similar support is given by the people they choose to include in their birth journey; it all depends on what the woman is comfortable with.
They make informed decisions about what they feel in their deepest hearts is what is right for themselves and their babies and not simply rely on what they are told (or not told) by their medical professionals. There is misinformation abound in the media and even worse, in the medical community that we so often rely on for our well-being. It is paramount that women seek out answers from various sources and make a decision after having learned about all possible options, especially when it comes to deciding on a course of action for dealing with ‘complications’. Being informed on the causes, how to prevent them, finding various ways of handling them appropriately, and being accountable for that choice afterwards is the responsibility of the parents.
All too often people blame their doctors when things to awry but they are simply doing what they’ve been trained to do: panic at any deviation from their norm and treat it like a medical emergency, adopting the quickest course of action possible. It’s not always the most effective, or desired choice, but by placing your trust in their decision-making abilities, you’re essentially accepting the outcome. I believe all knowledge is worth having even if you trust your medical team so that if there are conflicting opinions, you’re armed to defend your choices. Women who UC choose to take full responsibility for their births instead of relying on other people to GIVE them the birth they desire. In that, they prepare themselves thoroughly for any ‘issues’ and are willing to transfer to a hospital if it goes beyond their capabilities. In that, perhaps, they are more responsible than given credit.
I am currently considering a UC out of necessity myself, as the gross shortage of midwives in my area means that I will most likely have to birth in a hospital instead of having a supported homebirth and so then be subjected to the same abuse that happened to me with my son’s birth and I refuse to accept this. After researching into alternative birthing options, I came upon the concept of simply birthing myself and I was like WOAH! YOU CAN DO THAT?!!! I then proceeded to educate myself on how to do just that.
I looked into the clinical research behind routine tests and birthing procedures and came to an interesting conclusion: obstetrical “special knowledge”, just like midwifery practices is accessible to everyone now. They learned about birth the same way that anyone could: by studying and observing other’s births. With the level of access to information nowadays, anyone can find and observe normal births through online videos, by reading labour/birth accounts, order medical research and midwifery texts, and locate alternative birthing knowledge via books in libraries and bookstores. One can also directly contact local mothers who have had various birth experiences and gain their direct knowledge about the process. More and more midwives for example are writing books containing the techniques they’ve used over the years to deal with typical labouring complications that any woman can learn and use. The information is out there for those who take the time to look and educate themselves. I found it easily enough myself.
Freebirthing isn’t for everyone though, even with this knowledge. Some women feel more comfortable in hospital settings, or having midwives and doulas present. The mind/body connection in birth is too important to ignore and women need to do what makes them feel comfortable and safe. That’s the point of having different maternity care options. Women should still educate themselves about what normal birth looks like though, so they can make informed choices about their care, no matter their birth setting or who they choose to attend them.
It is not saying that I am braver than the next woman, or more foolhardy for considering taking full responsibility for my birth, it’s that I have come to these decisions because I now know and trust myself. I believe that no one knows my body as I do, and no one knows how to give birth to my baby like my body does. It somehow knew how to grow this baby, so it certainly knows how to birth it as well. I ignored my instincts during my last birth; my need for privacy and having support persons who were without fear or anxiety that could hinder my mind/body connection. I can honestly say now that I did not prepare myself or them well enough and suffered the consequences of that choice.
My considerations for this birth experience are based on my health history, my current lifestyle, my beliefs, and my research. Would I suggest this to everyone? Certainly not. I do however have faith in the options I am choosing now because they were done consciously. I am also aware of my limitations and have prepared for the possibility of a hospital transfer if need be. There are no guarantees in birth, that’s the truth.
Have you ever heard of the option to freebirth? Have you freebirthed before, or are planning to? Share your experiences!