Having a homebirth without a midwife is a radically empowering experience, whether by choice or by accident. Unassisted childbirth is the term, although that implies that you usually need assistance in giving birth. I prefer the term free birth, and can heartily recommend it for anyone that wants a safe, cheap, DIY homebirth.
Many people choose hospitals to have their children, and fear plays a big part in making that decision. The medical establishment, the media, the insurance industry and our modern culture of “experts” all contribute to the fear factor in natural homebirth. For a lot of parents to be, just having a homebirth is different enough to cause some fear, even though homebirths are safer than hospital births by far. Our local hospital gives C-sections to one third of birthing mothers. One third! Cesarean section is the most commonly performed surgery in the US, to the tune of $14 billion a year (the Cesarean rate in 1970 was 5.5%, in 2004 it was 29.1 percent, and it’s over 40% at many hospitals).
The classic book Spiritual Midwifery talks about birth as a natural process that involves the mother and the father. It’s an act of love and devotion to bring a child into the world in a conscious manner, and when you take charge of your own birth, you gain a big insight into the miracle that is childbirth. When you birth in a hospital, you get an insight into a mechanic’s shop and all of the attendant tools and gadgets, which will help you to understand all of many charges on your hospital bill and to see why your doctor drives a Mercedes…
Natural fatherhood is about making the choices that are the safest and most beneficial to your partner and your child. It doesn’t mean that you need to make the choices that I make, but at the very least, you’ve spent the time to research all of the alternatives so that you aren’t choosing by default.
The medical profession has a very specific protocol for every situation, and you will be pressured into doing what they have in mind if you aren’t educated on the alternatives and you just go along with the program. Having a written birth plan on hand that defines your needs and your choices is a key element. In ours, we said that we did not want silver nitrate in the eyes of our baby, we did not want to be separated from our child, no circumcision, etc. If you can give copies of this birth plan to all of the nurses and care team in the hospital, then you have a much better chance of being heard by them when you need to make your voice heard.
In your journey of natural parenting, do your homework, be informed, and speak up. The world needs more parents that stand up for what they believe in, no matter what the “experts” say.