I just did a random Google search on childbirth and found, as one of the highest listed results, a site that promotes unassisted childbirth. This means no doctors, no midwives, no nurses; just you, birthing in your home (or perhaps outside in a tent as one person boasts on the site), doing what your body tells you to do. Also called “Freebirthing,” this is a practice that is surprisingly gaining popularity around the U.S.
First, I agree with some of the things that Ms. Shanley, the author of the site, suggests. I believe that a woman’s body is miraculously capable of transforming itself into the perfect mechanism for bringing forth the child it has cared for through nine months. I also agree that medical intervention can sometimes hinder the natural processes by which the body uses to birth effectively.
However, I would be remiss as an RN in labor and delivery if I didn’t point out a couple of things that are misrepresented in Ms. Shanley’s site. Anyone who is considering freebirthing needs to understand that this concept, although conceivable, is to the extreme. If a mountain-climber wanted to climb a mountain alone without any safety ropes, he could. Maybe he would even be successful and we would all be amazed at his accomplishment. But if he fell, there would be no hope for him to come through it unharmed. The same is true for giving birth. The hospital is there for you to bring you through if something goes wrong…and things go wrong often.
I have been involved with literally thousands of deliveries and I would challenge Ms. Shanley to share with us the number that she has actually been involved with. I am very happy for her and the people who have contributed their birth stories to her that they had wonderful birth experiences alone…I would say they are the exception. Nearly all of them tell of their babies coming fast or “shooting” out, but we don’t hear from those who didn’t. Usually, it takes hard work and finesse to prevent adverse events including tearing, shoulder dystocia, hemorrhage, and many other mishaps, some of which can be fatal…for baby and mom. Ms. Shanley states,
No one, however, regardless of their "expertise," can guarantee that a baby will be born safely. Some babies die. It's simply nature's way.
--Laura Shanley, author of Unassisted Childbirth, quote taken from her website regarding safety of unassisted childbirth.
Why, if you care about your baby, would you take the chance that it would die in childbirth? Why would that be OK with you? Wouldn’t you do everything you could to keep your child safe? You would take every precaution for your child’s safety after it’s born, why not before? Why is it any different? Why are you putting your own ideal birth “experience” before the safety of your child? Some people would call this selfish. Ms. Shanley herself tells about her delivery at home of a known preterm baby and simply watching it die. She didn't even call for help until after it was dead. I'm sorry but I can't call that "nature's way" when you had the resources there available to you to help your child. If your child fell out of a boat would you stand there and watch him drown and say, "Well, that's just nature's way?"
Furthermore, to respond to Ms. Shanley’s remarks about health professionals: she forgets that it is our job to care. Let me say it again—WE CARE! We care about you, about your baby, about your comfort, about your wishes. And what we care about most is a healthy mom holding a healthy baby when it’s all said and done. If you want a natural childbirth, we won’t stand in the way. We do it all the time!
As I have said before, what will ultimately determine your value as a parent is the way you raise your child. Nobody cares how you gave birth…it simply doesn’t matter in the big picture of parenting.
Form your own opinion. Laura Shanley's site: http://www.unassistedchildbirth.com/
For a lively debate to Ms. Shanley's views, I recommend http://www.homebirthdebate.blogspot.com/.