According to a recent article in The Irish Independent, some women have chosen to take the “free birth” route after finding out that their midwives were not approved by the Health Service Executive (HSE) in Ireland. The HSE does not provide malpractice insurance for self-employed community midwives (SECMs) if they don’t fall within certain guidelines. And since access to midwives for home births has been an issue in some areas and some pregnant mothers would prefer to go it alone rather than deliver their babies in a hospital setting.
I get it. I myself am planning a home birth and a hospital birth is the last thing I would want given the choice, since hospitals aren’t a setting I feel particularly comfortable in. That said, I would choose a hospital birth 100 times over if I had to choose between that and an unassisted home birth.
I know “free birthing” isn’t just a thing in Ireland. Women do it here, too, and I even know of a couple personally. But, I just don’t get it. I stand firm that I will never judge another woman’s choice in birth, because I realize that not all women want to birth the same way. But, I have a hard time grasping why a woman would mind having a midwife present at a home birth and would choose instead to DIY it?
When I had my daughter it was at an out-of-hospital birthing center. My experience was essentially the same as a home birth, except that I had to drive in to the birthing center. Other than that everything went down about the same as it would’ve at home–no drugs, no interventions–and I was pretty much left to do my thing. My midwives were only in the room on and off and probably would’ve stayed out more if I’d wanted them to. They weren’t intrusive at all. They helped when I asked for it, but there were no cervical checks or anything and, aside from the occasional fetal heart rate monitoring, they stayed back.
I know some women feel more comfortable when given space to birth and I completely respect that, but I think it’s important to be responsible as well. Birth is an unpredictable event and there’s a lot going on. I see having and extra person to monitor as a benefit and not an intrusion. But, maybe I’m just missing something.
I asked around and got opinions from midwives on the matter and from other moms, but I’d love to know if any of you are “free birthers” yourselves. What was your reasoning behind it and what made you feel like it was the best and safest option for you? I really am intrigued!
Lauren Hartmann is the founder of The Little Things We Do, a blog about life and adventures in Portland Oregon. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram or catch up on all of her posts here on Babble.