It may startle a few of you to hear that some women CHOOSE to give birth alone.
But truly, this is only startling to our 21st century medicalized birth culture. Giving birth at home was the 'norm' less than a century ago.
And giving birth ALONE was the 'norm' for most of our human history.
But, enough on that for now... here I'd like to introduce you to a few of the reasons women decide to give birth unassisted by any 'professional' provider - and how some of these reasons reflect a system that isn't supportive of birthing women.
Choosing freebirth, or unassisted childbirth (UC), for reasons such as cost and inability to find or afford midwife reflect a situation in which the 'care system' is failing many women, babies, and families.
Every woman deserves access to a provider of her choice at a cost she can afford. Period.
Other reasons such as anger, resentment, and fear of the medical birth model again reflect our system's failings to provide women with safe, respectful care in a manner that is SAFE and RESPECTFUL in the Mother's eyes - not the system's definition.
Because who cares how the doctor or midwife feels during and after a birth - it is the mother who remembers this birth, the experience and how she was treated, for the rest of her life and cares for this child for the next 18+ years.
Women cited wanting their family, the safety of their home, their husbands direct involvement, and to be 'in control' - the one who holds power over herself, her body, and her baby.
This is a reasonable need from a laboring woman... or any person, for that matter.
...it would do us well to remember that women have the ability to decide what is best for them and their child.
We know that when women believe they are a valued member of the birth support team, they reflect more favorably on their experience - they feel more confident in their ability to mother - and they are more likely to advocate for themselves, their children, and their family in future endeavors.
Isn't this what we want for all women and families?
The experiences of women who give birth unassisted are important, for many reasons. For understanding what conditions women deliver in naturally - when they are in control and without outside interference or impediment and how their births differ from births with professional intervention, but also, to gain insight from their reasons for giving birth outside the established 'system'.
For some women, a freebirth is absolutely the right choice, with no outside or influencing factors. But, for others, an unassisted childbirth may feel like the only 'choice' in a system that tries to provide a 'one-size-fits-all' model of care.
Information from women who UC can be used to improve our practice and engage more women in a meaningful, respectful, and supportive manner no matter where or with whom they choose to birth their baby.
Here's to those who support women in their birth decisions and to improving our current model of care!
~Wisdom and Birth