When I was 14, I witnessed my
first birth. Sure, it was my cat giving birth
to her kittens, but I still remember the excitement
and beauty of it all. The mother knew exactly
what to do, and the procedure was very calm
and graceful. She purred peacefully while she
was laboring and giving birth to her little
ones. Since that time, I've witnessed the birth
of several more kittens, two calves, my little
sister, my nephew, and given birth twice myself.
I was privileged to watch the
birth of my little sister when I was 18. After
having watched my animal friends peacefully
give birth to their little ones, I was amazed
how complicated this human birth was! IV, epidural,
stirrups, monitor etc. A doctor who looked
more like he was directing a truck in the process
of backing up than assisting my mother bring
her baby into the world. After my sister was
born, the nurses suctioned her harshly and
wiped her off. We all got to hold her, after
which she was sent to the nursery for the standard
newborn procedures. My sisters and I watched
through the glass as a nurse poked her heel,
put antibiotic drops in her eyes, administered
the vitamin K shot, and the whole package.
She cried so hard, she turned blue, and couldn't
even gasp for air, but the nurse continued
with her "torture". We were all furious
and shocked! Already then I knew that something
I have since studied and learned
that most hospital procedures in childbirth
are in fact dangerous for both mother and baby.
Just being in a hospital itself can be a threat
for laboring mothers. By being in a hospital
you are most likely guaranteed to have invasive
procedures which could adversely affect the
outcome of the birth and postpartum.
There are several interventions
which could endanger the mother and baby which
include but are not limited to induction/pitocin,
electronic fetal monitoring (internal and external),
amniotomy (breaking the bag of waters), episiotomy,
epidural, pudential blocks, confining a woman
to bed, IV, fasting, vaginal exams, stirrups
and the supine position during the pushing
stage, pushing on command, forceps/vacuum extraction,
traction of the cord to expel the placenta,
and many more.(1,2) Many people do not know
that the attendants who are suppose to help
them and make childbirth safer are in actuality
endangering their lives.
So where is the ideal place to
give birth when the hospital poses such risks?
At home. Very simple. Not all women want to
give birth at home, but if they took the time
to rid themselves of fear and misconceptions
about birth, home is a superior place by far
to birth a baby. Studies over time have shown
that when a woman is relaxed and uninhibited,
birth outcomes are much safer, and definitely
more pleasurable for mom, dad and the baby.(1,2)
In her own house, a woman is free to be herself.
She doesn't have to defend herself, sign papers,
behave any certain way or ask for permission
to do something. She can be comfortable and
devote all her energy and thoughts to giving
birth without a group of medical professionals
watching and monitoring. When she is in tune
with herself, she will be able to focus on
giving birth, and listen to Divine promptings
which will lead and guide her to a much safer
and more satisfying and spiritual birth.
Preparation for childbirth is
of tremendous importance. We are given nine
months of pregnancy and it is wise to use this
time to prepare for the upcoming birth and
parenthood. If you are pregnant or planning
on becoming pregnant in the future read up
on childbirth and parenting. Inform yourself
about important choices you will be making.
Learn about what is taking place and will take
place in your body, and with your baby. Rid
yourself of useless fear. Reading an article
or two isn't enough. There are several books
out there which emphasize natural and pleasurable
childbirth. And there is a steady growing number
of books on unassisted childbirth. I would
recommend these as they emphasize the simplicity,
safety and pleasure of giving birth.
Of course the question of pain
always comes up. Why suffer if you don't have
to? Let me get this straight. Most women I
know who have had home births did not suffer.
Childbirth can be compared to any type of challenging
activity. Whether it be dancing, running a
marathon or skiing, only more intense. If you've
ever exercised intensely before you know that
it can be challenging, and you may feel a considerable
amount of discomfort, but there are benefits
as well. That's why we keep on doing it, and
the discomfort isn't necessarily bad. The same
is true of giving birth. It is an activity
in which you are working towards bringing your
child into the world, and it can be a pleasurable,
empowering, and spiritual experience. A woman's
body is designed to give birth, and it is most
natural and rewarding.
Childbirth in itself is not inherently
painful. Extreme pain indicates that something
needs attention. Something as easy as changing
positions, using the restroom, or eating or
drinking may be of tremendous help. When a
woman is relaxed and positive, she allows her
body to work the way nature intended. The mind
is powerful. Fear alone can cause labor to
stall, or deplete the uterus of oxygen. The
uterus in turn must work harder to get the
same results, and this may in turn cause labor
to be more painful. If the woman is confident
and positive, the body actually produce endorphins
(natural painkillers) to aid her. (3,4,5)
There are several ways to cope
with the intensity of the contractions naturally
resulting in a more pleasurable labor and birth.
These include using water for birth, counter
pressure, labor balls, warm packs, aromatherapy
and more. When a woman is comfortable and can
relax and trust that her body is capable of
giving birth, the uterus is able to work more
If you allow yourself to be a
victim, you will be one. Knowledge, education,
and taking responsibility are all a part of
birthing at home. The woman who takes this
responsibility does not suffer. The woman in
pain is the one who puts all her trust in a
medical system and ends up with unnecessary
interventions, disregard for physical, emotional
and spiritual needs, and humiliating and painful
procedures performed on her while she is most
vulnerable. A number of women who have experienced
medicalized births feel cheated and abused.
Husbands who see this happening to their wives
feel guilty and helpless. So often the husband
is pushed aside and rendered useless in aiding
his wife, when he actually is the most qualified
to giving love and support. An opportunity
for growth and strengthening in the marriage
is gone when medical professionals invade unnecessarily.
It is often said that women who
give birth at home are selfish, and do not
care for the well-being of their little ones.
This is so far from the truth. Hospitals are
in many instances dangerous for healthy babies.
Hospitals are a place for the sick, and germs
and bacteria are often transfered to the newborn.
Drugs given to the mother cross the placenta,
and cause distress in the baby, and the health
risk increases with each hospital procedure
that is performed, not to mention psychological
trauma from painful medical procedures. Babies
born at home are usually more alert and ready
to interact and bond. Their minds are still
open as they have been handled gently and lovingly.
Often babies who have experienced a great deal
of trauma will literally withdraw into themselves.(6)
Mothers who have given birth at home are in
an optimal state to greet their babies because
of the natural "high" from endorphins
and the hormone oxytocin. These hormones are
an important part of producing nurturing feelings.
I believe this is an important part of forming
the loving mother child relationship, and it
helps a women get off to the right start in
nursing and caring for her little one.(7) Sadly,
this is overlooked by the medical profession.
Doctors and nurses whisk babies away from their
mothers when they need their mothers the most,
and at a time when they are most alert and
ready to interact.
After attending the hospital
birth of my nephew a few years ago, I was standing
outside of the nursery looking at all the babies.
Next to us stood a couple who were the parents
to one of those infants. The mother looked
longingly at her baby through the glass while
she said "I haven't even held him yet,
and it has been two hours since he was born."
It broke my heart! There was no apparent reason
for this separation. Yet, her baby was laying
there alone and the mother's arms were empty
when she should have been embracing and cuddling
her little one. There is something so utterly
wrong with this picture. Studies have shown,
and it is completely logical that mothers and
babies are best off when they are together.
For too long we have been told
that birth is dangerous and too painful to
manage, and we need doctors to deliver our
babies. This is simply not true. Women have
the inherent wisdom necessary to give birth.
Babies assist in their own births if they are
not drugged. We need to trust our instincts
and intuition and be in tune with what is happening
during birth, and be open to receive divine
guidance. We have the right to birth our babies
in a place where there is love, safety, and
peace. Only then can the fullness and beauty
of birth be experienced.
Davis-Floyd, Robbie E., Birth
As An American Rite Of Passage. University
of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles,
Goer, Henci, The Thinking Woman's Guide To
A Better Birth, The Berkley Publishing Group,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014,
Dick-Read, Grantley, MD. Childbirth Without
Fear, fifth edition. New York: Harper R Row,
Lieberman, Adrienne B., Easing Labor Pain.
The Harvard Common Press, 1992
Andrea Robertson; The Pain of Labor - A Feminist
Leboyer, Frederick, Birth Without Violence,
Alfred A Knopf, Inc., 1974.
Odent, Michel, MD. Birth Reborn. New York:
Pantheon Books, 1984.
Safety of Home Birth
The evidence is overwhelming
– planned home birth is
safe for healthy women
the evidence that births to
healthy mothers, who are not
considered at medical risk after
comprehensive screening by trained
professionals, can occur safely
in various settings, including
out-of-hospital birth centers
and homes ...Therefore, APHA
Supports efforts to increase
access to out-of-hospital maternity
American Public Health Association,
“Increasing Access to
Out-of-Hospital Maternity Care
Services through State-Regulated
and Nationally-Certified Direct-Entry
Midwives (Policy Statement)”.
American Journal of Public Health,
Vol 92, No. 3, March 2002.
methodologically sound observational
studies have compared the outcomes
of planned home-births (irrespective
of the eventual place of birth)
with planned hospital births
for women with similar characteristics.
A meta-analysis of these studies
showed no maternal mortality,
and no statistically significant
differences in perinatal mortality
between the groups.”
et al, A Guide to Effective
Care in Pregnancy and Childbirth.
Oxford University Press, 2000.
is safe to say that a woman
should give birth in a place
she feels is safe, and at the
most peripheral level at which
appropriate care is feasible
and safe. For a low-risk pregnant
woman this can be at home, at
a small maternity clinic or
birth centre, in town or perhaps
at the maternity unit of a larger
hospital. However, it must be
a place where all the attention
and care are focused on her
needs and safety, as close to
home and her own culture as
Newborn Health/Safe Motherhood
Unit of the World Health Organization,
Care in Normal Birth: A practical
guide. World Health Organization,
outcomes with much lower intervention
rates are achieved at home births.
This may be because the overuse
of interventions in hospital
births introduces risks or the
home environment promotes problem-free
Obstetric Myths versus Research
Realities: A Guide to the Medical
Literature. Bergin & Garvey,
study supports previous research
indicating that planned home
birth with qualified care providers
can be a safe alternative for
healthy lower risk women.”
Murphy PA. “Outcomes Of
11,788 Planned Home Births Attended
By Certified Nurse-Midwives.
A Retrospective Descriptive
Study.” Journal of Nurse
Midwifery, 1995 Nov-Dec;40(6):483-92.
Many women today are choosing
to take responsibility for their own births.
They are learning to trust their bodies to
know how to give birth. While they are glad
that medical technology and doctors are there
when there is a real need, they are realizing
that pregnancy is not an illness and does not
require a doctor's care, and that birth is
a private and intimate experience that should
only be shared with those closest to you.
Many women who choose Autonomous
Childbirth choose to deliver their own babies
alone, without even the company of their husbands,
family, or friends.
All the knowledge that you need
in order to give birth is within you. You must
simply learn to listen to that sacred, inner
knowing which tells you exactly what to do.
However, in order to overcome the cultural
programming which leads women to doubt their
inner wisdom, most women who are going to take
responsibility for their own health and births
do a lot of research and studying. All the
information you need is available to you, and
you don't have to be a doctor to understand
it. Every pregnant woman is completely competent
to take over her own care, and to make decisions
about her own health.
Want to see some statistics I have collected
from women who have had a planned, unassisted
Here . These stats are extremely positive.
What are some of the reasons
that someone would want to give birth unassisted?
First of all, many of the routine
hospital procedures can actually cause more
harm in the long run than if the woman's body
was allowed to labor and deliver as it sees
fit. Many women object to these procedures
and want to avoid them. Also, since not every
woman gestates for the same length of time,
any decisions about whether a baby is late
or not are arbitrary. Many women are tired
of being induced with pitocin and having a
labor from hell, especially when babies can
be born normally and naturally without intervention
when the babies decide it is the right time.
By looking at the statistics I have gathered,
you will see that we have women in our group
who give birth anywhere from 35 to 44 weeks
with no complications. I am even aquainted
with women who have gestated for 47 weeks with
no complications. This is possible when a woman
has had excellent nutrition and has prepared
herself physically, mentally and emotionally.
Women are tired of their wishes and beliefs
about birth not being honored and respected.
They realize that many hospital procedures
which doctors are required to adhere to are
more about avoiding malpractice suits than
about what is really best for the woman and
baby. Many women are not willing to be pawns
in this game any more. Pregnancy is a perfectly
natural, normal function of a woman's body.
I realize that there are people who can cite
terrible stories about births in which the
mother and baby almost died, and were saved
by medical intervention. And for every one
of those stories, I can suggest to you several
reasons why that birth trauma could have been
avoided. This is not to belittle anyone's experience,
but simply to let you know that the are alternatives.
Childbirth does not have to be a nightmare,
and complications do not have to happen. They
are not things that just "happen"....they
are caused by something. In most cases, we
can eliminate the cause. Doctors will tell
you that they don't know why certain complications
happen. However, if you hang around this website,
and learn more about your body's abilities,
you will certainly see why complications happen.
Childbirth is a powerful, intimate
experience. It does not fit into a pathological
paradigm. It is a normal, natural event, special
and sacred. I hope you will continue browsing
website and learn more.
Women today seem to fall into two categories
where childbirth is concerned: medically managed
or natural. The first group wouldn’t
think of delivering their babies any place
but the hospital. The second sweetly chants,
“There’s no place like home.”
At first glance, neither group
seems to have much in common. But upon deeper
consideration, one correlation can be made:
Both groups deliver their babies into the hands
of a birth professional: a doctor or a midwife.
Many people are surprised to
hear about a small number of women in the natural
childbirth group that hold such faith in the
innate power of females to bring forth their
young, they choose to birth alone – without
a doctor or midwife.
“In an unassisted childbirth
no one acts as a midwife,” says Laura
Shanley, author of Unassisted Childbirth (Bergin
& Garvey, 1993) and the mother to four
children born unassisted. “Instead, the
birthing woman herself determines the course
of her labor. Partners or friends may participate
to varying degrees, but no one instructs the
woman as to how to give birth, when to push,
what position to be in, etc. Occasionally,
suggestions may be offered but it is assumed
that the woman giving birth is the true expert
on her own body.”
Why and how these women birth
unassisted are only part of the intrigue. Their
experiences impart on them a profound wisdom
that may change the way modern society views
childbirth – a wisdom that can empower
all women, regardless of how they choose to
The Power to Believe
“I constantly recommend Laura Shanley's
book to people who have no intention of birthing
at home, much less unassisted,” says
Josephine Joyner of Omaha, Neb. “I find
that regardless of the birthing environment,
if a woman is looking within and prepared to
give birth rather than be delivered, she is
in a much better position to understand what
her and her child's needs are and can go about
getting them met much more efficiently.”
Joyner has experienced two pain-free
unassisted births, one of which is featured
in Judy Seaman's documentary film, A Clear
Road to Birth.
While many women would find the
idea of being alone during childbirth scary
and stressful, Shanley points out that some
women are actually inhibited by the presence
of others during birth. And at least one childbirth
professional seems to agree.
Grantly Dick-Read, author of
Childbirth Without Fear (Heinemann Medical)
writes, "If left alone in labor, the body
of a woman produces most easily the baby that
is not interfered with by its mother's mind
or the assistant's hand. If left alone, just
courage and patience are required. Faith, if
she is a believer, is the secret to having
a healthy baby and being a happy mother."
Faith is abundantly present in
the stories of unassisted birth and is something
all birthing women can benefit from. For some,
like Shanley, faith is inherent with their
first pregnancy. For others, it takes time
Leilah McCracken of Vancouver,
Canada, didn't always think "outside of
the box." Her first five births took place
in hospitals. After everything from induction
to Cesarean sections, she lost faith in the
painful process of birth in a hospital and
turned to a lay midwife to birth her sixth
child at home.
By the time she became pregnant
again, McCracken had a new perspective on birth
and had found new faith in the miraculous process.
“My seventh child was born unassisted
at home – not out of experimentation
or rebelliousness, but because I knew my body
and spirit work for birth,” she says.
“I knew in my deepest being, finally,
that I could give birth as all my ancestors
have: with splendor and perfection.”
left her so moved that she went on to become
an outspoken advocate for homebirth and unassisted
birth, dedicating her time and finances to
her www.birthlove.com Web site.
Forty-five weeks from the first day of her
last period, Jenny Hatch of Boulder, Colo.,
gave birth to her son, Andrew. She recalls
how she danced and sang through the three-hour
labor. “I had no physical pain before,
during or after the birth and never used any
form of pain medication,” she says.
Hatch, organizer of the second
International Husband/Wife Homebirth Conference,
delivered her 11-pound son into the waiting
arms of his father. Despite the fact that her
son required breathing assistance from a volunteer
fireman and she required hospital transfer
for excessive bleeding, she does not regret
or blame the unassisted birth. “I have
this reoccurring fantasy of [the volunteer
firefighter] handing Andrew back to me, tipping
his baseball cap and saying, ‘Have a
nice day Ma’am!’ and then leaving,”
she says. “I honestly believe that had
he done so, I would have latched Andrew onto
my breast which in turn would have stopped
my bleeding and we both would have been just
After all that, Hatch still believes
in childbirth as a normal, non-agonizing, natural
act, and that's something every woman could
benefit from, whether she births at home or
in a hospital. Replacing the fear with faith
just might deliver women from the throws of
childbirth agony and into the open arms of
the miracle they helped to create.
About the Author: Shel Franco is an associate
editor for iParenting.com and the mother of
Ten reasons to birth at home
don’t have to leave
the nest to add to it.
have control over your
labor and birth.
father is intimately involved
rather than a passive observer
on the sidelines.
birth will be surrounded
by love, not strangers
ridicules you, hurries
you or coaxes you to take
are more apt to have a
are more likely to experience
a pleasurable birth.
will treat the baby as
an object (poking, weighing,
measuring, taken away for
testing and experimentation).
will experience tremendous
awe and reverence for life.
There is a greater likelihood
of achieving the highest
level of human fulfillment