Unassisted pregnancy and home birth

Becky - posted on 12/14/2010 ( 63 moms have responded )

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This is sort of a spin-off of the midwives thread. Tried to post it a couple of nights ago and COM was being stupid, so I couldn't. Anyway, I was reading that Birth Without Fear that someone (Erin?) had posted a link to, and reading some stories about women who had intentionally had unassisted home births and unassisted pregnancies - which I would guess means no prenatal care. I had a friend on my birth board with Zach who did have prenatal care through a midwife, but had none of the routine testing - GD testing, strep B, blood work, ultrasounds, etc.

What do you think of this? Is it something you would ever consider?
I have nothing against midwives and home births. I hope to have a midwife next time around and would love to try a home birth, if I could ever get my husband on board. But I question the wisdom of an unassisted birth, especially after no prenatal care whatsoever. I know that these moms love their children and would never intentionally put them in harm's way. And I am sure their decisions were made after research and careful consideration. But with no prenatal care, how do you know if you're putting your child in harm's way? How do you know if a home birth is safe for yourself or your baby?
I had pre-e with Cole. If I'd had no prenatal care, we both could have died. Well, okay, we would've gone to the hospital when I started having seizures, so we probably wouldn't have died, but it could have had serious consequences! I don't know, to me, it just doesn't seem like a very responsible decision to have no medical care whatsoever during your pregnancy.
Thoughts?

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Mary - posted on 12/14/2010

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I have a question that's been bugging me as I read responses in this thread and those about circumcision.

It seems (to me) that those who support a woman's right to choose and unassisted pregnancy and/or birth are almost always staunchly anti-RIC. One of their prevailing arguments revolves around their belief that RIC both violates the basic rights of the child, as well as subjecting them to unnecessary pain and suffering. They will also argue that RIC places a child at undue risk of complications from the procedure, up to and including death.

In the next breath, they will argue that a parent should have the right to abstain from any unwanted prenatal care and testing as well as the "right" to chose to birth without assistance. I hear repeatedly that it is "her body, her birth, her choice".

I'm not saying that woman should have no choices, but I fail to see how choosing a path that can substantially increase the risks of a child being permanently damaged because of not utilizing readily available resources is a whole lot different from the parent who supports RIC. It can be argued that BOTH the freebirther and the RIC parent are taking unnecessary risks with the health and well-being of their child - one through intervention, and one through withholding it.

I'm sorry, but I just don't get how anyone can claim to truly have the best interests of their child at heart and NOT get prenatal care. I'm not an interventionist by any means - At 38, I declined all prenatal diagnostics but the 20 week anatomy screening - and this was the only ultrasound I had. I did, however, have a glucose challenge test at 28 weeks, as well as a GBS swab at 36 weeks. Why? Because these are easily treatable issues in pregnancy that can have an enormous impact on your baby. What in God's name could be be the rationale for NOT having these done? All I can come up with is that the person who declines this is too self-absorbed, and focused on THEIR birth experience to remember that it really is NOT just about them.

Isobel - posted on 12/14/2010

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I have to respectfully disagree...being witness to that many births IS a mystical secret knowledge...she would be able to remember a certain way the baby's head kept coming out and then shrinking back in in a particular way that ended up with the baby being stuck behind the pelvic bone...or any other myriad of problems...I don't see how anybody could feel comfortable doing it ALONE...I think it's reckless and dangerous to be honest...no matter how prepared you think you are.

Isobel - posted on 12/14/2010

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but then honestly...I hate to say it...but can we ever have accurate records of babies who die during freebirthing...another problem...sorry

Stifler's - posted on 12/14/2010

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I should just say what I think instead of trying to be tolerant and understanding... I think it's a stupid idea. Back in the day when people gave birth alone the infant morbidity rate was much much higher. That's why antenatal care was introduced in the first place. You can educate yourself and stuff but nursing and midwifery takes 4 years at university and delivering a lot of babies means experience with all kinds of issues giving birth.

Isobel - posted on 12/14/2010

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ummm...a midwife has seen a great many more than 3 births...and as many of us can attest, every birth is different.

While I understand a desire to do this, I think it is reckless to not have somebody around who knows what to do and will not panic in case of emergency...and sorry, but I don't believe that my husband nor I would fit that bill...I would suggest that NO parents can behave objectively and rationally when the life of their child and spouse are at risk.

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Sarah - posted on 01/21/2013

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I have had two completely normal pregnancies and two vaginal deliveries that is where the similarities end.
My first was a hospital birth I was on pitocin for 20+ hours had two epidurals (first failed) all the monitoring and intervention available except for a caesarian (which after two hours of solid pushing they were talking loudly about doing) Then a four day stay in the hospital because they pulled my placenta out via the cord and ripped it severing the membranes which remained inside my uterus.
My second was a planned homebirth with a midwife. My labor lasted less than three hours was completely spontaneous (no active pushing on my part) and the midwife (thinking she had time to shower and eat before coming over) showed up about 20 minutes after my son presented himself and 5 minutes after the placenta. I was able to nurse immediately and drink some of the Red Raspberry Tea that had become a staple in my diet the last trimester both of which helped the placenta detatch.
I understand that homebirth is not for everyone and unassisted (unintentional or intentional) for even fewer, but my personal experience was AMAZING!! My husband looked into my eyes as my body pushed our son into the world he was the first person to touch our son. No strangers coming and going, no harsh lights, no chemicals or beeping mechanical instruments or foreign germs just an overwhelming feeling of love and the deep connection that was strengthened between my husband and myself as the culmination of our love for each other entered this world three days late at a healthy 7lb10oz.
To anyone thinking this might be for them DO YOUR HOMEWORK and have a back-up plan just in case, but if you are healthy and feel this is right for you please consider doing it. Talk to a midwife (or a few to find and hire your perfect fit) talk to other homebirth mothers and do what is right for you no matter what others say, you know your body better than anyone else- trust yourself. I know it was one of the defining moments in my life and my relationship with my husband.

Mrs. - posted on 12/15/2010

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Usually, I like to see it from all angles and not push too hard on one side but this...this is nuts. Anyway you shake this snow globe it is ugly inside. "Freebirth", as it is called, is nuttier than a squirrel's fart, IMO.

Dana - posted on 12/15/2010

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I have some friends who had an unassisted home birth, it was their 3rd child, 2 previous ones born at home, they studied up as much as you can and were very active with their first two, they had major complications with the third. Luckily, (and they say by the grace of God) both baby and mother lived. They said they'd never do it again nor recommend someone do it without a trained professional.

Kylie - posted on 12/15/2010

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I have a FB friend who is planning an unassisted pregnancy and home birth. I've told her it frightens me because she lives hours form the city hospitals so if something goes wrong there is no immediate help. She has absolute faith in her ability to grow and birth a healthy baby by herself.
I'm the opposite..i wanted every ultrasound and blood test i could get and i wanted doctors and specialist right there if i needed them. I had no faith i could do it on my own.

Sherri - posted on 12/15/2010

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I personally think it is irresponsible not to go to your OB get the necessary care and have either a midwife or OB there when the baby is born. No mother is a trained professional and I have had 3 kids and would never go without the necessary care to assure a healthy pregnancy and baby.

Tara - posted on 12/15/2010

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Well said Mary.
I am anti-circumcision and I am pro-homebirth, but only when attended to by a trained midwife. My reasoning is the same as yours, it is a risk to your childs health and well being. Like you I feel not having any prenatal care, by a professional is risky and reckless.
I skipped my initial bloodwork up with my last baby, I was too busy and just didn't get to it until I was about 20 weeks, by then I was feeling so shitty and tired, but blamed it on having so many other freaking kids around and homeschooling, working at the lake etc. etc.
Turns out I had ZERO iron stores in my body. I was completely anemic. I felt awful that I had neglected to get my blood work done before it got so bad.
I could have fainted at home with my other kids here, I could have put Riley's life in danger.
Prenatal testing is a must, for every mom. Not just pee sticks either. There are a myriad of problems that can lay hidden until labour, delivery and birth.
Homebirthing is safer than hospital birthing in most case, this is when you take into account the incidences of post partum infections, unnecessary interventions etc.

Mary - posted on 12/15/2010

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And Erin, you don't really count, since you do believe in prenatal care, midwives, and vaccinations =)

C. - posted on 12/15/2010

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Honestly, I think it's stupid to have an unassisted home birth. There's too much that can go wrong and there's no telling how long it can take to get to a hospital or for an ambulance to get to you. It's not worth risking mother and baby's lives, IMO.

Mary - posted on 12/15/2010

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Erin, I really wasn't specifically directing my question at you (although I had faith that you would respond). It's just a thought that had been rumbling around in my head for a while now.

Ez - posted on 12/14/2010

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Though the same can be said for circ-related deaths. They are often passed off as cardiac arrest, haemorrage or sepsis.

Ez - posted on 12/14/2010

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Yeah I don't think there are any stats on UC. Mostly because it is fairly underground.

Isobel - posted on 12/14/2010

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I'd like to see the chances of death resulting from both before I make that decision...though I wouldn't circumcise anyhow...but still

Ez - posted on 12/14/2010

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Yeah but one is guaranteed to have a negative impact (loss of nerves, lubrication and the formation of scar tissue - however small -happen in every boy who is circ'd). Lots of babies are born peacefully and without incident in a UC. It's still much more of a risk than I would be willing to take (and hearing freebirthers deny that risk most definitely worries me) but there is a reasonable possibility of a good outcome. The same can't be said for RIC.

Isobel - posted on 12/14/2010

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That's a toughie to me...they seem to be equal...both are reckless, both CAN lead to death of a baby...

Kate CP - posted on 12/14/2010

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Bonnie: A home birth is one thing (and I'm very pro-home birth) but an UNASSISTED birth is just nuts.

Bonnie - posted on 12/14/2010

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I think their are many women who prefer a home birth because they are in their own environment. They can do what they want and don't have to feel any pressures. They find it calming.

Amanda - posted on 12/14/2010

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Lisa- it was either footling or kneeling breech, and i have no idea why she did not realize that the baby was this way until it was almost too late.
i simply don't understand why anyone would want an unassisted birth, haven't we technically had "assisted" births for centuries (someone with not only "book smarts" but experience)? what if shoulder dystocia occurs i'm pretty sure no matter how researched a mother is she isn't going to be able to break that collar bone and chances are it's tricky for the partner as well...... birth is a gamble as it is, why add to it? i just cannot respect or support unassisted births.

Ez - posted on 12/14/2010

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I'm assuming your question was to me Mary? Just to be clear, I disagree with foregoing all pre-natal care. And I don't support UC per se, but rather accept it.



But to answer your question (and hopefully not to hijack the thread lol), the difference between UC and circumcision is that many many freebirthed babies are perfectly fine and have absolutely no side-effects. The same can not be said for a boy who is circumcised. When a foreskin is removed, certain things happen to ALL babies who undergo the procedure. It is a guarnateed effect (ie, the loss of 20,000 nerve endings). With UC, there is a high chance that the baby will suffer no ill effects.



Now please don't misunderstand me. I don't think everyone should UC. *I* don't even want to UC. I agree there is an element of risk, though I have had discussions with freebirthers who argue that fact which is kind of irritating. It is a calculated risk that they are willing to make (though with the best of intentions). Choosing to circumcise is more than a risk. It is agreeing to a definite negative outcome (the degree of which obviously differs, but at the very least they are losing the lubrication provided by the foreskin).



Anyway, I really don't intend on this turning into another circ debate. We've just finished one on PDHT that went for 600+ posts lol.

Jenn - posted on 12/14/2010

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It's not for me, just because I'm a bit of a scaredy cat but I have a few friends who have had babies at home with no help and they were just fine.

Stifler's - posted on 12/14/2010

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I had the nuchal translucency. Only because I wanted to see the baby!!

Kate CP - posted on 12/14/2010

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I'm all for home births and midwives but for the love of God, have a trained professional there with you!

Isobel - posted on 12/14/2010

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I only had one ultrasound too...and I had the diabetes test because my Dad is type 1...and thank you again Mary

Stifler's - posted on 12/14/2010

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Oh I support home birth with a midwife, but with no one there I think is a stupid idea.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 12/14/2010

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Unassisted, and no pre-natal care? Sounds like the typical story you hear about...the firl at prom that delivers in thw bathroom and didn't know she is preggo.
This scares the crap outta me. Home births make me nervous even with help..not saying it is not ok...just not for me. I just fear complications and feel better knowing there is a fully equipt medical staff right outside.

Jodi - posted on 12/14/2010

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This topic is a hot one for me in ways as I'm planning my homebirth currently!

I do not agree with unassisted homebirths, I think it's an irresponsible choice to make. Even if you ARE a midwife and know how to deliver a baby in many a complicated setting, what happens if you pass out? What happens to the baby if something happens to you? (say, without prenatal care you didn't know you had pre-E and had a siezure mid-labor rendering you helpless?). My goodness, I'm having twins and I have to have 4...yes FOUR midwives on location all the way during labor. One for each baby, one for me and one to oversee everything! I definately don't agree with a lack of pre-natal care, things like GD, pre-E, low fluid etc etc etc can all be caught and treated and lead to a perfectly healthy baby and mother. Left untreated, they can get out of hand and deadly very quickly. I just think it's irresponsible, no matter how much research you have looked up on the web, it won't give you the same insight as a blood draw, a urine test or an ultrasound.

As for homebirths, assisted by an accredited midwife, I'm all for them!

Ez - posted on 12/14/2010

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It really is all about what an individual woman is comfortable with. There are lots of stats that say homebirth is at least as safe, if not safer, than hospital birth with low risk mothers. But if a mother is fearful, like you Kati, it will not be a good experience.



Personally, the idea of giving birth in a hospital again scares me far more than having a midwife attend me in a homebirth. IM's carry pitocin and oxygen and are well-repared for complications. If they are very severe, you transport to hospital.

Stifler's - posted on 12/14/2010

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i had a hospital birth but there was no IV or internal exams or any of that just the monitor for an hour or something to make sure i was in labour, me in labour in the shower, some gas which got abandoned at the end of it anyway then i gave birth. sure i could have done all that at home but the midwife wouldn't have been right there in case something had gone wrong

Rosie - posted on 12/14/2010

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i know, sometimes i just can't believe how people can be so different, lol. i really don't understand the appeal of having a kid at home. it scares the shit out of me. why on earth would somebody NOT want to be in a place where medical help is IMMEDIATELY available to their child,and themselves. i honestly don't get how monitors and drugs are worse than your kid dying. i don't know. i really do think it's because of my miscarriages that i feel overly crazy about pregnancy, and birth being "safe".

Ez - posted on 12/14/2010

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LOL Kati, you think homebirthers are crazy. I think labouring mummas walking into the overly-medicalised US maternity wards and instantly being hooked up to the IV and epidural are crazy :-p

Rosie - posted on 12/14/2010

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i think it's a pretty damn stupid thing to do, sorry. i even think home birth is too risky for myself, wouldn't do it in a million years.
i've had 2 miscarriages, i don't know if that has made me biased or what, but i HAVE to have an ultrasound as soon as i find out i'm pregnant. i HAVE to hear my childs heartbeat as soon as i can, if i couldn't hear it i would freak the fuck out. it's not in the cards for me to just go through pregnancy not knowing if my child is alright. i just freak out about it too much.
homebirths i still think you're crazy for doing it, but i'm not to adamant about that, unassisted home birth?? definitely think you've got rocks rolling around up there.

Ez - posted on 12/14/2010

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I strongly believe that birth is about choice. It's funny that some of you are more comfortable with a UP (unassisted pregnancy) than the actual UC. I feel the opposite. I think with sensible ante-natal care, you can be reassured that mother and baby are both in good health. If that woman then wants to go on to freebirth, I can accept that. I wouldn't do it, but I respect another mother's right to.

April - posted on 12/14/2010

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i think what it all boils down to is one has to be the right kind of woman...one who really knows her stuff and wouldn't panic. Some one CONFIDENT but at the same time knows her limits.

Stifler's - posted on 12/14/2010

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I wouldn't want to do it alone at all. I'm trying to be understanding here!! LOL

Stifler's - posted on 12/14/2010

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I like antenatal care. If people don't want to have it whatever. If you want to educate yourself and have an unassisted birth at home why not? I'm too lazy for that though and would rather have lots of people around just in case.

Minnie - posted on 12/14/2010

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I agree, Laura, definitely midwives have seen more than three births. I was just making a point that the knowledge isn't secret or anything. One CAN make the effort to educate herself on possible outcomes and what to do. It's not priveleged knowledge.



But- I think some have missed it- I most likely WILL have a midwife at my birth. I'm just supporting other mothers who DO choose to birth unassisted.



Now I don't know the details of the breech situation in the video you watched, Amanda, but I am aware of techniques that can help a breech baby birth easily. It's not necessarily a case for a c-section. And why didn't she check the position of her baby while in labor?



If a woman chooses to birth without a professional birth attendant she definitely should be making it a point to be her own advocate and stay on top of things. I agree with Sharon that people definitely shouldn't just go into this without any knowledge. It's something to seriously prepare for.

Sharon - posted on 12/14/2010

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I'm not a technology addict. But I do enjoy the advances medical care has made. All the advances are not to my taste but at least the help is there.

If someone like Lisa M. who educates herself and works hard for herself and her baby wants to take that gamble. Sure, go for it. It is a calculated risk.

Its the morons who think "my grandmammy dint have no help, I don't need none either." who plow forward oblivious to their risks to give birth in a risky situation. that i have no respect for. These women do a dangerous thing. But ultimately, I don't give a shit about them. They would never be in my intimate circle of friends. If they and their child die in child birth, its nothing to me but a small sad note somewhere on a E-newspage. And the smaller fraction who get into trouble, have to call 911, wind up having a severely brain damaged child, child who needs an incredible amount of medical care that piss me the fuck off. These women I'd love to hurt with my own two hands. For the tax dollars they suck up, for the suffering they've inflicted on an innocent child.

Amanda - posted on 12/14/2010

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"I guess I wasn't aware that there was some secret knowledge out there. Midwives learn through book education and experience. I believe that women can be educated and confident if they take the time and effort to do that."
Lisa- I don't disagree with that. But it's not just the book education that is important the key, IMO, is the experience part. for instance, i could watch all sorts of videos, read all sorts of books, and look at all sorts of pictures on knitting, but put some knitting needles and yarn in my hands and i would make a hot mess... i watched a show on unassisted births, it was just the woman and her hubby, most of them turned out fine but one was breech and turned (i cannot for the life of me remember the term for this) the mother had no idea until labor started and she and the baby almost died because she was so insistant that she could deal with it on her own because she watched a video, her hubby ended up calling 911 in the nick of time. i guess it's those type of complications that i am talking about, complications that a level headed midwife could come in handy

Minnie - posted on 12/14/2010

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there are too many unpredictable complications that no amount of "homework" can prepare someone to deal with.

I guess I wasn't aware that there was some secret knowledge out there. Midwives learn through book education and experience. I believe that women can be educated and confident if they take the time and effort to do that.

Becky, my knowledge has come through three pregnancies, my mother, who is a nurse, a lot of research and book reading and my wonderful midwives.

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I would be all for a free birth if i didn't have GD. Even with it i believe i would be fine to have a home birth as i have contolled it amazingly and have never had any other issues with labor or birth.

JuLeah - posted on 12/14/2010

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I am not sure what they mean by 'unassisted' Do they mean no one around? I'd not do that. I would not require a doctor, but a person in the know and a person who could get me help if help was needed.
I believe in prenatal care, but not all the many tests they now require. There is no medical reason for most, just that insurance will pay so they tell us it is needed. This BTW according to the doc that delivered my baby. He, the doc, felt babies ought to be delivered at home unless there was a medical reason for more care.

Bonnie - posted on 12/14/2010

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I know something can go wrong with the mother and baby even if there is prenatal care and other testing done, but I would never be able to go through with it. I would be worried the entire pregnancy that something could be wrong. When I went to my prenatal visits monthly at first and weekly towards the end, they were my reassurance that everything was well. Because of the fact I have had a DVT (blood clot) in my leg before and I have an iron deficiency, these are probably other reasons why I would fear going through the pregnancy without visits and testing. There are just too many risks to me. A woman can even be completely healthy before a pregnancy and things can still go wrong. It's taking a chance.

Amanda - posted on 12/14/2010

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i can see not having any ultrasounds, and no genetic testing (especially if you have no plans to abort IF there is something wrong with the baby).... i fully support home births (although i personally was not comfortable with it for myself), but i do not support free births. there are too many unpredictable complications that no amount of "homework" can prepare someone to deal with. complications that a midwife could recognize, likely, before the situation becomes fatal for mother, child or both.
from my understanding (reading some of the women on this board's homebirth stories) a midwife is as involved or uninvolved during the birth as the woman wants her to be? with that being the case, why would someone want to take the risks involved with free birth?

April - posted on 12/14/2010

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@ Tara I imagine that must have been shocking...but even if she'd gave birth in a hospital, her daughter still would only have one arm. My point being that some people may say, "see, she shouldn't have had a home birth!"

Lady Heather - posted on 12/14/2010

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I can understand when women don't want tons of ultrasounds. Most of the time there's no reason for it. But given my experience, I will always take ONE. Well, given my experience I will always take masses because I have to have constant monitoring of my baby's growth and development and fluid levels for every pregnancy hereafter. And no, that can't be done accurately any other way. I could measure my own fundal height and pee in a cup at home and even figure out how my kid was positioned, but there are some things that require an internal look. We aren't all normal and perfect on the inside. We aren't actually all made to have babies naturally. That's why so many women used to die. I hear this blah blah blah about how "We're made to do this. Your body was built for childbirth!". Well guess what? That's just not always true.

April - posted on 12/14/2010

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I'm okay with an unassisted birth IF the woman (and her husband/partner) have done their "homework". Not to single you out there Lisa...but I feel confident in your ability to freebirth, it really sounds like you have it together and you know what you're doing. I wouldn't have confidence in my own ability...for example what is fundal height and what is palpate your uterus? Furthermore...I would not be able to hear my own child's heartbeat, nor would I be able to locate my placenta through sound (this skill is called auditory localization. basically...when someone shouts Lisa! You know where to turn your head. When someone shouts April! I am looking all over like a crazy woman trying to find that voice!)

**I used myself as an example...but I am sure there are others like me that need to read up and study freebirthing before they determine that they have the skills to go ahead with the unassisted route

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