Natural Fatherhood

Unassisted Homebirth, Fathering, and You

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.

Derek Markham

Things I dig include: simple living, natural fatherhood, attachment parenting, natural building, unassisted childbirth (homebirth), bicycles, permaculture, organic and biodynamic gardening, vegan peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, bouldering, and the blues. Find me elsewhere at @NaturalPapa, @DerekMarkham, Google+, or RebelMouse.

4 thoughts on “Unassisted Homebirth, Fathering, and You

  • Naturalpapa:
    I admire you having done your homework to the nth degree. Our first daughter was a big girl at 9lbs11oz and jammed a shoulder on birth. I was glad as heck that the hospital had the crash cart ready to deal with her needs at the time. The doctor said if we have a second that the chances of it being even bigger (over 10-11 lbs) is pretty good. My wife and I are resigned to the fact that we may HAVE to have a cesarian for everyones safety on this one. We would like to have the choice but if they come out healthy and happy we’re happy! As for circumcision, not an avenue we have had to persue, this one is going to be a girl too!!
    another great post!

  • Found your site from a comment in the natural families blog. Sooo happy to see a UC dad! We think our family is complete but our plan was to have any subsequent babies UC. Our second child was a birth center/midwife birth but we stayed at home until I was in transition (didn’t even realize we were that far!) and we really wish we had just stayed put. It was so peaceful when it was just us. We have wonderful memories of that time together.

  • derek markham

    Zen Dad: I didn’t write in my post that I see great value in doctors and hospitals and technology when we need them (crisis and acute life-or-death situations), probably should have… I give thanks that we have access to trained professionals with all of the tools that they need, because much of the world doesn’t have that option. Thanks for the comment.

  • Tiffany: Thanks for reading! Our second and third babies came within a half hour of transition, so be prepared for a speedy birth with the next one!
    We have found that the time together during birth is incredibly powerful for us as a couple and as a family. We have a video of our youngest child’s birth, and watching my (then) 7 year-old daughter singing to her mother and rubbing her back as she gives birth is so inspiring! Gives me goose bumps just thinking about it. I know that my daughter’s experience about birth will be centered around the “sacred family” and faith in the primal knowledge in our bodies. She also knows that midwives and doulas are some of the coolest people on the planet, and the hospital is 5 minutes away if you need it.


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