How to learn from assisted birth stories

I know, I know… The very thought of delving back into assisted births when you are planning an unassisted birth is a bit repugnant. You’re reading these posts because you do not want to have an assisted birth, so why am I bringing up the topic? Well, because I myself have had two unassisted births, one assisted hospital birth. I absolutely credit learning from EVERYONE’s birth stories in helping me know what choices I might face.

Ponder Your Choices

Did you catch that I said I want to know about the choices I would have? Birth, no matter where you plan to be, or where you end up going or staying, is almost always about the choices you make. Are you choosing to stay at home? Are you choosing to go to a birth center? Do you plan to go to a hotel (because your house is not conducive to birthing) for some reason?  Did you get nervous and call 911? Were the paramedics insistent that you choose to go with them? Have you experienced doctors behaving as if you didn’t have any choices in what they did or didn’t do? Did the hospital insist you did not have a choice about certain protocol like getting an iv placed?  You do know that you have a choice whether to accept or decline any of those options, right?

Well, at least in theory you have the choice. Sometimes when you place yourself in certain environments, or around certain types of people (anyone who feels they are an authority and do not like to be crossed or questioned), though you legally have the right to refuse you may find yourself being swept along on a path you do not want, and only afterward you reflect upon “when or where could I have stopped that train?”

How to learn from assisted birth stories assisted birth. hospital birth. home birth. water birth.

I want to encourage you,

“Learn from other birth stories, and discover which choices might take away your choice.” 

My own preference is to listen to podcasts of birth stories. I can put on wireless headphones and listen while clean my house while women tell their birth stories. “The Birth Hour” by Bryn Huntpalmer is one of my favorites, but there are many many other places to go to read or listen to stories. Am I looking for stories like what I hope to have? NO! Not at all. But I do brighten up and listen a little harder when I hear of an unassisted birth story. Why did they choose unassisted? Was it planned or accidental? Were they choosing it because of a bad experience in the past, or for some other reason? I admit I am intrigued and curious, but by no means are these the only stories I seek out.

Hearing twin stories is fun. C-section stories often have tidbits of information that I tuck away in the back of my mind *just in case* I find myself in those shoes… After all, there is always a slim possibility that I will find myselfgoing for a C-section. If I have placenta previa, for example, or if my placenta started separating near the beginning of labor and bleeding got scary. This is by no means mentioned to cause fear, but to show that I want to know what a C-section experience is like from another woman’s perspective so that I can ponder the choices SHE made, and maybe make different ones.

For example

I firmly intend to INSIST, absolutely INSIST that my husband stays with me if an epidural is placed. Every story I hear has included “my husband was told he had to leave the room…” and even though there are zero examples of women (that I have come across so far) rejecting that choice — “You must stay here with me, or I will decline the procedure.” That is a plan I have tucked into my head and heart. Another is, “Baby must stay IN THE ROOM with me, and not go to NICU. Intubate HERE if you need to. Give oxygen HERE in the room, if you need to. Baby stays.


Unless they have something like gastroschisis (intestines on the outside of the body) then… yeah, okay, take the baby away.  I plan to squawk and insist and give very specific instructions. If my requests are disregarded, I plan to ask very politely, and very coldly, “WRITE IN MY CHART THAT I DECLINED AND YOU DISREGARDED MY CHOICE.” then I will ask to see the chart and make sure it is included.

Would I know about any of these situations if I hadn’t listened to C-section stories? No! And if I had an emergency I’d simply be on a roller-coaster that I couldn’t get off until it was too late… and I’d reflect and wish I could change it.

Did you know?

Did you know that EVEN if 911 is called you don’t have to go with them to the hospital, even if they are insistent? BUT, if you go unconscious then they are obligated to take you in, even if you expressed while conscious that you

didn’t want to go.  Did you know that babies (even twins!) born before 22 weeks at home can survive if you are rushed to the hospital and the placenta stays attached and you do not cut the cord so they maintain oxygen. Did you know that most paramedics are instructed to cut the cords?!

Listen to stories, or read them. The crazy, odd, intervention filled births are sometimes the richest gold-mines of information for those of us who wish to birth unassisted. They give us an idea of what could happen, and what the choices we have could be, and the outcomes of those choices from real people. I’ve pondered many scenarios and thought about what I might do. For me, it’s not scary, but more freeing, like reading a “Choose your own adventure” book and trying to get to the end with an outcome I’m happy with.

YOUR birth will be full of choices.

Maybe not the same choices as women in a hospital or birth center. Your choices might be “Do I invite my best friend to come, or will she stress me out?” “Do I want a childcare backup plan for my other kids, or will I trust they’ll sleep OR be interested in the birth?” “Do I have a safe-word  to tell my partner that I actually am worried and we should call for help or go in?” “Shall I tell anyone our plans or pretend we have an ob/gyn?” Whatever the choices, YOU get to make them. Your choices will have consequences, either lining up with expectations or not. Learn from other women what the consequences of a wide variety of choices were. Then decide if you’re okay with that or if you want to prepare a different choice.

Also keep in mind that some choices land you on that path that strips away your choices going forward, simply because some people believe it is their choice that matters. YOU are the birthing mother. Your choices matter. Don’t give up that power.

Blessings on your upcoming birth!

Hannah S.
Hannah S.

If you’re interested in reading my birth stories, they are Noah, Keziah, and Lydia

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