Moms Are Giving Birth On Their Own – No Doctor, Doula Or Midwife In Sight
When one of my closest friends (40 years old, pregnant with her first) told me she was planning a natural, home birth with two midwives and a doula, I was less than pleased. I’m neurotic, and so was busy envisioning all the things that could go wrong. “What if the baby needs emergency treatment?” I asked. “We’re nine minutes from the hospital,” she told me. On and on we went until, finally, I realized that this was the right choice for her. I never judged, it was really more of a worry thing – but she eventually opened my eyes to the various birthing options out there.
One option we never discussed – and that I had never before heard of until today – is delivering solo. That means no doctor, no doula and no midwife in sight. Nada. Instead, it’s all about a woman giving birth on her own without any help whatsoever from a trained professional. Of course, her partner is in the room, but that’s it.
Am I the only one who finds this absolutely mind-blowing?! You know those terrifying stories you hear about women who deliver babies in a cab while stuck in traffic or on a long-haul flight? There are women out there who actually choose to have this experience, albeit planned and in the comfort of their own home.
The Mail Online yesterday published an article on the trend – often called “freebirthing” – which is how I heard about it in the first place. It tells the story of Cher Sievey, a British mother of three, who opted for a “solo” birth with both her second and third children. “One doctor said I should be put in prison for what I planned to do,” Cher said in the piece. “One friend called me crazy. I suspect quite a few said the same behind my back.”
The article claims that 7,000 women in the U.S. make this choice every year, which is surprising to me. In the UK, it’s still rare, but Sievey believes that more women plan to deliver this way and just don’t admit it to anyone. Regardless, people are totally freaked out by this choice – everyone from midwives to obstetricians to fellow moms.
Of course, the big question is why would someone actually choose to deliver a baby this way? For Seivey, it’s all about instinct and control. She says she had a bad hospital experience when she gave birth to her first child eight years ago. Sievey had hired a midwife for the experience but she found her to be bossy. She describes creating a calming atmosphere with candles burning, and having regular contractions – until her midwife arrived, that is.
“‘I felt in control, relaxed and wonderful. But then this bossy midwife came in, turned on all the lights and started ordering me about. I started to worry and feel frightened as I felt myself losing control. My contractions stopped almost immediately,” she said. “Although I was elated to have a healthy baby, I felt disappointed that the whole birth had been managed by someone else, on someone else’s orders and according to their time-frame.”
For her second child, Sievey endured a five-hour labor with just her and her husband, William, and no outside assistance. And it went off without a hitch. The couple didn’t cut the baby’s cord but instead kept the placenta attached to the baby until it fell off naturally after a few days. “It’s what our closest relatives, the chimpanzees, do. I felt it was right that my baby, who’d been attached to her placenta for nine months, should be the one to decide when it was no longer needed,” Sievey said.
Finally, when she was pregnant with her third one year later, Sievey went one step further by refusing a single antenatal check-up or scan. She went on to have a stress-free, four-hour labor. “I felt it was my body and my baby, and I would decide if and when I received any medical intervention. I wanted to make childbirth the relaxed, family event it should be,” she said. “Of course, I don’t believe freebirthing is for everyone — there are some vulnerable women out there who need support. But for me, nature did know best.”
And there you have it. Freebirthing. Personally, I can’t help but think of the ‘what ifs’ – but that’s just me. What do you think? Way too risky or a woman’s right (or both)?