Host: Julie Sabatier
Guest: Susan Maray (spelling?), CPM and press liaison for MANA (Midwives Alliance of North America)
Julie: I’m curious if you ever consult with women who want to give birth without any assistant.
Susan: I have got those calls. There’s a movement called unassisted birth, and there are women who are having their babies without a midwife and with their partners. And if they have other children, with those children. I’m sure the numbers are very, very small. There are very few women who are looking for that kind of an experience. From my reading of it, it looks like some of those people believe that birth should be a very exclusively family-centered experience. Some of those women, from what I can tell, came to that decision out of really bad former experiences. I imagine some of those were hospital births and maybe some were home births. Having a midwife that didn’t meet their needs or having doctors that didn’t meet their needs, and they’ve decided to do an unassisted birth. I imagine some are having unassisted births because they can’t afford to pay for their birth, and that’s a frightening and horrible thing.
Julie: That sounds like a very scary prospect, I guess, but it’s not something you want to discourage people from doing if they’re very determined to do it. What kind of advice to you give when people say to you, “I want to do it myself”?
Susan: I rarely get consulted on the subject. The only time I’ve ever been consulted was when somebody called and said, “I’m planning this. If I needed a midwife, would you be willing to come?” And I wasn’t. What she was saying was, if there’s a problem, would you come. And I’m not really interested in cleaning up somebody else’s problem. My job, in my opinion, is to prevent a problem from occurring if I can and then deal with it if it’s something I couldn’t prevent. So I wouldn’t advise somebody not to have an unassisted birth if that’s what they were committed to doing. I think I would take the same approach I take with my own clients, which is educate yourself, make informed choices, and take responsibility for your choices.
Julie: Are there any advantages as you see them to doing an unassisted birth?
Susan: In line with my thinking that if it’s empowering to have a natural birth at home with a midwife, I would imagine it’s even more empowering to have one without a midwife. If you have a birth that goes beautifully and you know you fully did it without anybody needing to be there, that would be a pretty life-altering experience. In preparation for this twin birth, I just watched a video of a woman giving birth to twins unassisted. Twins, unassisted--that’s amazing. The second one was a breech, which she didn’t know. There were a few swear words as she discovered that the second one was a breech, but she just calmly birthed her babies, catching her own babies, and her husband was shooting the video of it. I just thought it was amazing how confident she was and how happy she was. Yeah, I think that’s one of the big advantages of it.
Julie: That’s pretty amazing.
Julie: Thank you so much for talking to me...