Since unassisted childbirth is a private experience chosen by few, there are no evidence-based scientific studies about this birth option. Most of the information below is sourced from resources we have read and from women who have chosen to give birth unassisted.
Unassisted childbirth (UC) has been defined as the process of intentionally giving birth without the assistance of a doctor, midwife or other professional birth attendant.
A woman giving birth unassisted determines the course of her labor and birth autonomously.
Unassisted childbirth is also known as unassisted home birth, DIY (do-it-yourself) birth and freebirth.
It is a birth that is planned to take place in the home or other venue of the mother's choice, distinct from an emergency birth, where the woman in labor didn't make it to a hospital or birthing center on time.
Most women who choose to birth unassisted believe that giving birth is a natural function of the female body and therefore should not be treated as an illness or a medical emergency. They believe that left undisturbed i.e. without the medical interventions commonly practiced by professional birth attendants, that giving birth is an uncomplicated process that will usually take its course without risk to the mother or her baby.
Men, you would never let another man between your wife's legs while she is lying in bed half naked in your bedroom, right? Yet you give up that position when she's in the hospital to have a baby and you don't think twice. I think there is something wrong with that.
Bob Griesemer in Unassisted Homebirth
Other couples regard giving birth as the culmination of the sexual act that brought about conception. They believe that giving birth is an intimate, private, sexual act that should not be intruded upon by any third parties.
Some women have even reported experiencing an orgasmic experience, brought about by the release of a cocktail of hormones, which similar to a sexual climax, would not easily be released if they were not in a private setting.
Some women have chosen unassisted birth as they were not able to find a midwife or birthing attendant who was willing to assist them in a home birth.
Others choose UC out of the desire for greater freedom and autonomy than they experienced with previous births, either in hospital or attended by midwives at home. For some, an unassisted childbirth brings emotional healing where a woman felt unempowered in a previous birth experience.
Unassisted childbirthers also share the views of many midwives that many interventions commonly used by the medical profession, particularly in hospitals, hinder the normal processes of labor and birth and cause many of the complications that arise as a result.
Couples who have had unassisted births believe that they are better able to bond with their newborns, without the typical routines and interventions that occur when others are present. The mother or the father is usually the first person to touch the baby and this first touch is usually loving and gentle.
Some couples include family, especially older siblings and grandparents and even close friends to be present to witness the birth of the baby.
As stated previously, other couples want to be intimate alone, while a small group of women choose to birth solo, without even a birthing partner.
Many women seek professional care and regular check-ups with a healthcare professional during their pregnancies, and undergo tests and ultrasound to confirm that there are no risk factors and that their pregnancy and baby's development is progressing normally.
Others choose self-care in their belief that pregnancy is a normal part of life and provided women have healthy lifestyles, it should carry few risks.
Still others use a combination of a few check ups and self-care for the rest of the time.
Women who choose unassisted child birth often research and prepare themselves physically, emotionally and spiritually using online resources, such as websites and online UC support groups as well as books and DVDs.
They usually understand the perceived risks of UC and they are informed about the possible variations of 'normal' birth, such as unusual presentations. They are willing to deal with those and other possible eventualities should they arise.
For more resources on unassisted births, please look at the resources we recommend in the side column of this page.
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