Unassisted home birth can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience for some women. If you too are planning on having an unassisted home birth, it is essential to plan well, know the drawbacks and benefits of the process to make an informed decision. Keep reading to understand the pros and cons of unassisted home birth, and whether or not it is a viable option for you.
What Is Unassisted Home Birth?
Also, known as DIY birth or free birth, unassisted birth is when a woman decides to give birth without any assistance from a birthing centre, medical centre, or hospital, and also without any help or support from nurses, doctors, or midwives. However, a planned unassisted home birth is not the same as an accidental unassisted home birth, where the baby is born accidentally at home. This happens when the pregnant woman is not transported to the hospital on time or a trained health care provider is not present at the time of the birth. However, other people, such as family members or a doula, can be present during such births.
Are There Any Benefits of Having an Unassisted Home Birth?
There may be different reasons involved for a woman to choose free birthing. There are a number of benefits or advantages of having an unassisted home birth. Here are some of the pros:
- You are more in control of your birthing process.
- You are more comfortable and relaxed as you are in a familiar setting.
- Your labour will not be interrupted as you will not be going to the hospital.
- You will not be away from your partner during the labour and childbirth.
- If you have kids, you will not be required to leave them behind.
- You will be under no pressure to take medications and interventions such as epidurals, forceps, etc.
- Your cultural or religious considerations will be taken care of.
Apart from the reasons given above, sometimes women choose unassisted childbirth because they may have had bad experiences with birthing centres or hospitals with their previous deliveries. Free births also provide a more intimate birthing experience to the would-be-mothers. Also, this is a more viable option for you if you stay at a place where hospitals or medical facilities are at a considerable distance. For a few women, this is an advantageous decision because of certain religious convictions that they may have. You will also have the liberty of choosing your birthing position and other associated aspects of the process. If you wish to listen to music, take a relaxing shower, light candles, and do other relaxing and calming rituals, you can easily do them. The benefits of this procedure will greatly depend on your reasons for choosing this method of delivery.
What Are the Risks Involved in an Unassisted Home Birth?
Natural unassisted home birth has been a normal phenomenon since the advent of the human race. However, we cannot undermine the fact that the mortality rate (the mother’s and the baby’s) was also on the rise during those times. With the advancement of medical sciences, there has been a substantial dip in the death rate. However, even if you are completely healthy and have a normal or low-risk pregnancy, sometimes complications may occur during labour or delivery. Here are some of the risks of unassisted home birth:
- The newborn baby may experience difficulty in breathing.
- The baby may have a prolapsed cord.
- The baby’s cord may become compressed.
- The labour may not progress as expected.
- The mother may not be able to cope well with the physical as well as the mental trauma of the birthing process.
- The mother may experience breathing or cardiac issues.
- The mother may lose too much blood or experience a haemorrhage.
- The placenta may not detach after the delivery.
- There may be an increased risk of injury to the baby, in case any medical emergency occurs.
- The mother may not have access to epidurals.
- The mother might have to be transported to the hospital, in case, any complication or emergency arises.
You may have your own reasons for opting for an unassisted home birth; however, it is crucial to understand that sometimes certain complications may arise and they may increase the risks for you as well as your baby. The danger further increases if no medical assistance is readily available. According to one of the researches by AAP or American Academy of Paediatrics, it is observed that there has been a two to three-fold increase in infant mortality rate in the case of home-based deliveries. Also, AAP proposes that accredited birth centres and hospitals are the safest places to give birth to a baby in the United States.
Which Pregnant Women Should Not Choose Unassisted Home Birth?
If you are wondering when to opt for an unassisted home birth, or whether or not you are fit for such kind of birthing process, you should look at the list given below. If you fall under any of the following categories, then having an unassisted home birth is something that you should not consider:
- If you have had previous cesarean deliveries.
- If you have had preterm deliveries.
- If you are carrying twins or multiple babies.
- If you have been advised not to deliver without medical assistance and support.
- If you stay more than 15 minutes’ drive from your nearest medical facility.
- If you suffer from high blood pressure or preeclampsia.
- If you have any kind of bleeding disorder.
- If you suffer from any kind of heart ailment or disease.
- If you have been tested positive for HIV, Group B Strep, Hepatitis, or other such conditions.
- If you suffer from diabetes, lupus, or other such medical conditions.
If you have experienced or suffer from any of the given conditions, it may not be a viable decision to go for a home birth. Though home births are legal and every woman is vested with the right to choose as to how she wishes to give birth to her baby in the United States, however, with such legal rights comes the responsibility of making the right decision. There are many health professionals who feel that unassisted home birth is a kind of risk that is not worth taking.
However, if you still plan to go ahead with this decision, make sure that you take steps and measures to ensure safe unassisted home birth. The first and foremost thing to keep in mind is that you plan a delivery close to a place where you have easy and timely access to a medical facility or hospital. Do not forget to take classes for neonatal resuscitation, which may help you during your free delivery. Be well-prepared, both physically and mentally, to sail comfortably through the stages of labour. Do consider the care of a certified OB/GYN or midwife rather than keeping it off the table, which means if the need arises, make sure you reach out to them. Also, make sure you keep visiting a certified OB/GYN or medical practitioner during the course of your pregnancy to keep track of yours as well as your baby’s health.