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Is Freebirth for You? 7 Critical Questions Answered

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Picture of Bere Horthy

Bere Horthy

Doula & Registered Nurse

You’re nearing the end of your pregnancy and you’re still trying to choose how you want to bring your baby into the world. 

Scrolling through what feels like an endless list of birthing options. 

Traditional hospital birth, birthing centres, home birth — and now, freebirth has popped up on your radar.

Intrigued?

Before we dive deep, let’s clarify that freebirth isn’t a trendy Instagram hashtag or a rebellious statement against modern medicine. 

Nope, it’s more complex than that.

Freebirth is the choice to give birth without the assistance of a medical healthcare provider. 

No midwife, no obstetrician, no nurse.

It’s just you, your support circle, and the unfiltered experience of bringing a new life into the world.

For some, it’s exactly what they envisioned; for others its terrifying. 

To help you make your decision, we have put together seven important questions that you’ll definitely want to consider.

Grab a herbal tea, put your feet up, and let’s get to it.

What is freebirth?

In its purest form, freebirth—also known as unassisted childbirth—is the act of giving birth without the presence of a doctor or midwife. 

If you think this sounds a bit “old-school,” you’re not wrong. 

Historically, birth was always a natural process, often facilitated by traditional birth helpers in the community. 

However, around the late 1930s, the medical model of childbirth started to become the norm. 

The perception shifted, and birth became something that heavily relied on the help of medical experts.

C-section rates skyrocketed and home births became taboo and only something that ‘hippies’ did.

Fast forward to today, and there’s a growing movement of people rethinking this narrative. 

Many are embracing freebirth as an option that gives control back to the mother and her baby.

Free birth by Hanna Hill
Source: Hanna Hill

Why some choose the freebirth path?

It’s easy to cast judgement, especially when the topic is as intimate and important as giving birth. 

But there are genuine reasons why some women opt for freebirth. 

First off, there’s the financial aspect. 

Having a baby isn’t cheap, and going the traditional hospital route can feel like adding fuel to a fire of expenses. 

Freebirth, with its lack of medical intervention, is generally lighter on the wallet. 

But here’s the thing: if things take an unexpected turn, those saved pennies might end up as an expensive emergency fund. 

Then there are women who are feeling let down by the healthcare system. 

An Australian study brought something important to light: maternity care often falls short of being truly woman-centred.

In the ideal world, each woman would be given personalised, woman-centred care and be supported to have the birth they desired.

But unfortunately, many women report feeling unsafe, unsupported, and unheard in their previous birth experiences. 

Another study found that 1 in 3 women who go through the hospital system for their births come out with birth-related trauma as a result. 

It’s a serious trust issue that makes freebirth more appealing.

And it’s not just about the lack of faith in the system.

For some, freebirth is a way to reclaim power over their bodies and to be in full control of the birth process. 

It’s the desire for a calm, uninterrupted space where the natural physiology of labour can be the main focus. 

No clinical distractions, no unsolicited advice—just a deeply personal experience. 

Navigating the maze of freebirth legality can be a bit like trying to assemble flat-pack furniture without instructions. 

You’re in new territory and things can get confusing, fast. 

In many parts of the world, freebirth is legal, yet it occupies a sort of grey area. 

Medical professionals rarely recommend it, but they also can’t stop you.

However, in places like Dubai or Indonesia, the situation is more black and white. 

In fact, homebirths and water births, let alone freebirths, are actually illegal. 

Surprisingly, despite these laws, many local women still choose this path, though it’s normally made to look like an accident.

Choosing freebirth means you’re signing up for some big responsibilities. 

You’re becoming the person who is solely responsible for the welfare of your baby, so it’s important to be informed and prepared. 

Before starting on this journey, consider the legal implications; it’s one more layer in your decision-making process. 

And when it comes to giving birth, you’ll want as few surprises as possible.

Source: Andie & Ollie Photography
Source: Andie & Ollie Photography

7 Questions you should ask yourself before choosing freebirth

Before we jump into these questions, remember one thing: this is about you and your choices. 

Every pregnancy is unique, and what feels right for one person might not work for another. 

So let’s delve into the seven questions that can help you shape your freebirth decision.

Are You Comfortable Without Medical Supervision?

The first hurdle to consider is the absence of medical professionals. 

No doctor, no midwife—just you, your support system, and the baby. 

Freebirth isn’t everyone’s cup of tea for this very reason. 

If you prefer the comfort of having someone medical to guide you without opting for a hospital birth;

Remember there are options like home births with experienced midwives and doulas present.

Do You Have a Support System in Place?

Even if it’s just you and your partner, a support system is crucial. 

If something goes off course, who will you call? 

While many doulas won’t attend freebirths due to legal and liability reasons, family and close friends can still offer valuable emotional support.

How Will You Handle Potential Complications?

Things can get unpredictable during childbirth, even when everything is going smoothly. 

Have you researched and prepared for situations like breech birth or haemorrhaging? 

How close is the nearest hospital if needed?

Knowing what steps to take could make a world of difference.

Are You Prepared for the Aftercare?

Once the baby is here, the journey is far from over. 

From cutting the umbilical cord to cleaning up, are you ready for what comes next? 

Make sure you’ve got all your supplies ready and perhaps even a post-birth plan to ease into life with a newborn.

What’s Your Pain Management Plan?

It’s no secret that childbirth can be intense and painful. 

If you find that the pain becomes too much, how will you plan to manage the pain without medical interventions like epidurals? 

Some turn to natural remedies, like heat, counter pressure, massage and breathing techniques. 

It’s a personal choice but one that needs careful thought.

How Will You Monitor the Baby’s Health?

When it’s just you and your loved ones in the room, monitoring the baby’s health is entirely up to you. 

Do you know the signs of distress? 

Do you need to have equipment, like a fetal doppler, to check on the baby? 

Remember, you’re the first line of help here.

Are You Emotionally Ready for the Experience?

Last but by no means least, this is a big emotional commitment. 

There’s empowerment in freebirth, but also stress and fear. 

Assess your emotional preparedness. 

Are you ready to be your own advocate every step of the way?

Are you mentally prepared if something does go wrong?

The answers to these questions will offer you a panoramic view of whether freebirth aligns with your needs and wants. 

And if you find that it doesn’t, there are plenty of other paths leading to the same beautiful destination: meeting your baby.

man-with-pregnant-woman-in-nature

Risks and controversies around freebirth

No path in life is without its bumps and turns, and the freebirth journey is no different.

While the risks involved in Freebirth may be similar to those in hospital or home births—things like fetal distress or postpartum haemorrhage—the key difference is immediate access to medical help.

If something goes south during a Freebirth, you’re essentially on your own until help arrives.

And sometimes, that delay can be the difference between life and death.

Now, let’s talk about the elephants in the room: the controversies and stigmas.

It’s not uncommon for medical providers to refuse to offer advice if you’re considering freebirth.

It’s not that they don’t have opinions; it’s that they’re often wary of the legal implications if something goes awry.

It’s a sticky situation that leaves many would-be freebirthers feeling isolated and unsupported.

And then there’s the social side of things.

Friends and family suddenly become armchair obstetricians, offering unsolicited advice that ranges from concerned to downright hurtful.

“You don’t care about your baby’s life” is a phrase that sadly, many women who choose freebirth have heard more than once.

The reality is that opting for freebirth isn’t an easy decision, nor is it one made lightly.

It comes with medical, ethical, and social dilemmas that you’ll need to navigate carefully.

But knowledge is power, and the more you understand the nuances, the better prepared you’ll be.

Preparing for freebirth: a checklist

You’ve mulled it over and decided freebirth might be the path for you. 

Now what? 

Here’s a brief checklist to set you on your way:

  • Education: Do your research. Know the pros and cons, and educate yourself on the medical aspects of childbirth.
  • Consult: Speak to healthcare professionals. While they won’t be present, their advice could be invaluable.
  • Plan: Create a comprehensive birth plan. Know what you will do in case of complications.
  • Support System: Make sure you have a reliable support system, even if it’s just one person.
  • Supplies: Stock up on all the essentials—clean towels, sterilised scissors, a birthing pool if you wish, and so on.
  • Location: Prepare the space where you plan to give birth, ensuring it’s clean and comfortable.

There’s no one-size-fits-all birth

Childbirth is an intensely personal journey, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. 

Whether you’re drawn to the serenity of freebirth or find comfort in a more medical setting; 

What matters most is making the choice that aligns with your unique needs, beliefs, and circumstances. 

Take time to explore, question, and prepare. 

berenice-horthy-author
Bere Horthy

As a doula and nurse, Bere's mission is to empower and educate women, families, and fellow doulas to make informed decisions throughout their pregnancy, birth, and postpartum journey.

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