Friday, August 17, 2007

DIY Portland: Home Birth

Another radio program about home birth, including a discussion with a CPM about her views on unassisted birth. I've typed out the segment concerning UC below (since I need the transcripts for my dissertation).


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.

Susan: Yeah.

Julie: Thank you so much for talking to me...


  1. wow, susan was sure being diplomatic!

    nobody calls me. :( guess there isn't really any big controversy or challenge there, eh?

  2. I have the feeling the interviewer took the comment about UCing because they couldn't afford another birth being horrible as a commentary on UCing in general. Interesting. Thanks for posting these - I enjoy reading what's out there. So is there that much more being publicized, or is it more a "seek and ye shall find" kind of thing?

  3. I post articles when I see them, but not always. Just depends on how busy I am! There has been a recent explosion in TV, radio, magazine, and newspaper articles about UC especially in the British Commonwealth. For example, I've been interviewed for a US newspaper, a UK weekly magazine (Grazia), a UK TV show, and an Australian monthly magazine (Marie Claire). Right now there's a lot more buzz in the UK than in the States or Canada. More in Canada than in the US, actually, because of the SOGC's recent position on freebirthing.

  4. OK, call me dense...what's the SOGC's recent position? And will you have access to any of the other interviews you've done? Wow...I know somebody famous :)

  5. You can read the SOGC's (Canadian equivalent of ACOG) recent position on freebirth here:

    Note that unlike ACOG, the SOGC supports midwife-attended home birth.

    I haven't received a copy of Marie Claire yet, but I'll post it once I do.

  6. I just wanted to tell you. I would love to read a copy of your dissertation when it's available. I hope you're looking to publish it :)

    Good luck pulling everything together, I just finished my thesis, and I can't imagine writing a dissertation.

  7. Hi, I'm Susan who was interviewed. I'm surprised to be called diplomatic. Not sure what that meant. I was saying my honest feelings. I wanted to clarify that what I said "frightening and horrible"I was referring to the lack of insurance not unassisted birth. I hope my overall affirmation of unassisted birth for women who choose it for purposes of empowerment came across.

  8. Hi Susan, thanks for commenting.

  9. One more thing. When Julie interviewed me about homebirth, I told her that given the name of her program DIY Portland, she should know about unassisted birth - the true do it yourself birth. I'm not sure that my mentioning of it was included as she edited our interview, but that's how it went down.



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