Labor and Birth

Preparing for a Freebirth/Unassisted Birth

February 22, 2014

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We are mamas and birth workers who decided to do birth differently– and bring others along with us. We are kind, fun to work with, and great at (lovingly) calling people on their bullshit. With 12 children and 20 years of midwifery between us, we’ve learned a thing or two along the way, and Indie Birth is our space to share it all with you.

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People planning a freebirth tend to fall into one of two camps. The first camp includes those who are planning a freebirth and don’t feel like they need to do much in the way of preparation. They know their body will do it, and they are confident that they would know if they needed help – other than that, there isn’t anything to “know”. The other camp includes people that feel they need to learn everything they can about birth and birth complications, and need to, in essence, “become their own midwife”. One is not better than the other, they are just different. So this post is for those in the second group, who want to know everything they can know about birth and how to handle any issues that may come up. We often get asked “how do I prepare for an unassisted birth?” so here is my list of favorite resources:

1. A shameless plug for our “pay what you can” 13 Moons: Epic Education for the Birthing Year. Maryn and I designed this 50+ hour online experience (you can choose which parts you want to explore, or do it all!) for women wanting to take full responsibility for their births. This class is a comprehensive foundation in what you need to know about creating a healthy pregnancy and learning the nitty gritty details about the birth process. We pull together all of our favorite resources as well as our custom made Indie Birth videos, classes, podcasts and articles in one place.

2. Our 200+ free podcasts are another amazing resource. There are podcasts about all aspects of pregnancy, birth, the postpartum, midwifery politics, women’s spirituality, and so much more. It is an actual treasure trove, and a serious gift to the universe :)!!!

3. Watch lots of physiological, undisturbed birth videos. We have MANY in our 13 Moons: Epic Education for the Birthing Year online course, many of which are from births we have actually attended. Here are a few other of my favorites.

The Unassisted Home Birth of Felix Alexander Part 2: Emergence
unassisted birth / Alleingeburt 2
Birth in the Squatting Position
Homebirth conducted by Parents

4. Don’t neglect the emotional and spiritual work in favor of the “brain” work. This can look a lot of different ways, but might include journaling, meeting with a pregnancy support group, doing prenatal yoga, making art, doing spiritual work or asking for spiritual support, reading books geared towards this such as Birthing From Within, or talking about your fears and excitements often with a trusted friend.

5.Gregory White’s book “Emergency Childbirth” – This is a great basic resource for those wanting to know “what to do” in case issues come up. Generally, the advice is good, though some of the recommendations are not perfect (ex. no need to wait to give the mom the baby after birth) I do NOT think it is an end point, but rather an introduction to the ideas that can then serve as a springboard for further learning and investigation.

6. A common question is how to get father’s on board with the unassisted birth choice. The ebook “A Dad’s Journey Into Homebirth” is written by a veteran 6 time homebirthing father and is a great free resource for all the dads out there! Jason (Maryn’s husband who has been with her through 10 births!) also made an incredible class for dads that is a part of our 13 Moons course.

7. If you’re looking for individualized support, we offer virtual midwifery sessions and many of the women we work with in this way are planning freebirths. You can read more about that experience and what we offer here.

8. Last but not least, we have a whole series of videos for do-it-yourself pregnancy, birth and postpartum topics. Here are a few we have made so far.

Learning to Feel/Palpate Your Own Baby
Listening to Your Baby’s Heartbeat (Fetoscope Skills)
Do-It-Yourself Placenta Preparation; video includes placenta exam and raw method of prep

I hope this is helpful, and we would love to see you over in 13 Moons which also includes live online circles which are really lovely!

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  1. Jenny Hatch says:

    I wrote a book for Fathers who are reluctant to help their wives with an Unassisted Birth:http://www.amazon.com/Elijah-Birth-turn-Hearts-Fathers-ebook/dp/B002KAO58Q

    Keep up the great work!

    Jenny Hatch

  2. Bethany says:

    why is there absolutely no information on any of the freebirth sites I’ve seen about the simple list of things you need to assemble for the birth? Maybe it is self-explanatory for some but not for me. What do I need to get?

  3. Ryan S. says:

    The last YouTube link appears to have been taken down. 🙁

  4. Fon says:

    Thanks for this information! Great to be able to find a resource such as this that provides encouragement for those parents that wish to give birth naturally.

    I have one request. Can you write about waters breaking early when unassisted at home. I’m most interested in how to know if it’s definitely waters broken or something else and what to do if this does happen, like how long one can wait before we need to induce (if at all necessary)? Maybe what to check to be certain that things are still safe and progressing in the right way?

    Thank you

  5. Fon says:

    Thanks for this information! Great to be able to find a resource such as this that provides encouragement for those parents that wish to give birth naturally.

    I have one request. Can you write about waters breaking early when unassisted at home. I’m most interested in how to know if it’s definitely waters broken or something else and what to do if this does happen, like how long one can wait before we need to induce (if at all necessary)? Maybe what to check to be certain that things are still safe and progressing in the right way?

    Thank you

  6. Margo Blackstone says:

    Here is a podcast on the topic – https://indiebirth.org/mariamengelwellactually/

  7. Jun says:

    Thanks for compiling a list of what we should have covered for our planned, unassisted birth, Jenny. The list is so thorough. I’ll be sure to share this post with my wife. I’m taking Birth for Men webinar classes as suggested by my friend as an additional preparation too. The book you wrote for fathers sounds interesting.

  8. […] to free birth, perhaps especially during a pandemic. For more information on free birth, see here, here, and […]

  9. Brittney Battaglia says:

    Hi 🙂 We are planning to birth unassisted for our second child (our first was born at home assisted 6 years ago). Im at 33 weeks and have had some spotting various times over the last week… along with quite a lot of Braxton hicks. I was concerned the first time and we ended up in the hospital but came home after observation and receiving fluids. All is well but I have had again some spotting and seems that if Im on my feet much I end up not sleeping well and very contracted. Focusing on staying hydrated and increasing magnesium levels. I am just looking for any info on the topic of continuing to plan for an unassisted birth under these circumstances. Im not finding many resources that speak about it… hoping it may be a more common thing than is spoken about. Thank you!

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We are mamas and midwives who decided to do birth differently– and bring others along with us. We are radical, fun to work with, and great at (lovingly) calling people on their bullshit to help move us all towards a new more beautiful world. With 12 children and over two decades of midwifery between us, we’ve learned a thing or two along the way, and Indie Birth is our space to share it all with you.

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