I first encountered the idea of unassisted childbirth (UC) about 3 years ago. I was at a state midwifery meeting, and one of the midwives mentioned she was very interested in and supportive of unassisted birth. At the time, I had just come across homebirth midwifery and was in love with the idea. I thought that giving birth without any attendant was pretty strange, not to mention dangerous and scary.
I kept reading about unassisted birth and coming across unassisted birth stories. They were consistently the most powerful, inspiring, and empowering. The kinds of births narrated in the stories resonated to my core, even more than midwife-attended homebirth stories.
Over the past 3 years I have also worked as a doula, apprenticed with one midwife, and assisted another. I saw what some UC advocates have mentioned: disturbing amounts of interference even at home births. Now, not every homebirth was like this. But I realized that we have to pick homebirth midwives as carefully as any other birth attendant. They can say all the right things--birth is natural, I'll only intervene when necessary, women's bodies are made to give birth--but we have to really find out if their actions match their rhetoric.
The realization that I wanted to birth at home unassisted, rather than with a midwife, came gradually. After we moved a year and a half ago, I learned that homebirth midwives were very difficult to find in our new state. Now, had I really wanted a midwife I could have found one. But I knew that even if I was able to locate them, I might not click with any of them, or they might not feel comfortable with my wishes for the birth. I knew that if I hired a midwife, I would request that she stay downstairs the entire time unless I specifically asked for assistance. No heart tones, no vaginal exams, no catching or monitoring the baby. Basically I didn't want to know she was there.
Once I became pregnant last winter, I just felt no desire at all to hire a midwife. The idea didn't feel right to me anymore. I said to myself, "well, we'll be working in France for a few months over the summer. I will just do things on my own until I get back. Then if I feel like having a midwife, I will look for one." I left; I came back, about 6 months pregnant. I still didn't feel drawn towards having a midwife, so inertia carried me to the end of my pregnancy. I half-heartedly talked with two other midwives in my area, in the process of helping friends who were searching for alternatives to hospital births.
I continued to wonder if I should find a midwife, but it never felt right. However, I also wanted to have other options if birth threw me a curve ball. I'd far rather "transfer" to a homebirth midwife, than to a hospital. As it turns out, I gave birth at 38 weeks, so that solved my dilemma!
I'd like to hear your stories about how you first heard about unassisted birth, what you initially thought, and whether or not that has changed. Please share!