Skip to content

Unassisted Birth- an old, new practice


photo courtesy of mandypics


I know I’ve mentioned this before but, for the purposes of this post, I’ll remind you. I was a labor and delivery nurse in my 20s and early(ier) 30s. I loved my profession and still have very fond memories of the time and care I put in and the fulfillment it created for me. I knew what I knew when I knew it. And I gave it my mind and my heart. During those years, we would periodically have a mom come in having attempted a homebirth or post-homebirth with an issue that required, or at least was perceived to have required, medical attention. I’ll admit, we nurses shook our heads disapprovingly at these women. Didn’t they know that a hospital or birth center was the place to birth?

Then I had both of my babies in the hospital with absolutely no intervention – no IV (or saline lock), my own labor and birthing positioning, fetal heart rate checks when I requested (rather than the serious over-monitoring to which we were prone), eating and drinking as desired, both babies immediately to my breast for feeding, etc. Everything changed. I began to question my practice as a nurse and whether I was doing more harm than good. I resigned while on maternity leave with my second child and began working at a hospital noted for their evidence-based practice model. This meant not practicing out of fear but based on the actual evidence that birth is a natural occurrence and that we serve as observers, supporters, and caregivers of the process – intervening only when absolutely necessary or requested by the mother.

My thoughts on birth have definitely evolved over time and the more I talk with mothers, fathers, doulas, and midwives. I had come to love the idea of homebirths attended by midwives and relinquished my need to play the professional savior when people chose pregnancy, labor, or birthing modalities that seemed foreign for me. I have to admit, however, that Inok Alrutz’s birth story in RE- PARENT’s Issue One floored me. This was the opposite of everything I had been trained to practice as a labor nurse. I squirmed as I read. Fear came forth and I wanted someone with objective experience in birth to intervene.

I know the primary truth of birth, though, which Inok finds in the process – the power of presence, the power of knowing, the strength and power of the birthing woman. I have seen fear change an issue-free birth into a nightmare scenario and I have seen strength, power, and fortitude of spirit – against all medical odds – create the most beautiful and transformational experience for a partnership as they bring their new baby forth. I know that this experience has made Inok who she will be as a mother – trusting of herself, powerful, present, and determined.



All three of my kids were born at home and the last was unassisted, so my thoughts on reading Inok’s story were definitely not shock but gratitude and inspiration and empathy. I was powerfully empathetic as I imagined her fear and pain, birthing for the first time and not according to her ‘master plan.’ I was deeply inspired by her inner wisdom on birth and her and her baby’s natural ability to ‘figure this out’ without intervention. I am grateful, even now, every day, for the gift she has brought into the world and her own gift to all of us of her empowerment. Yes, I absolutely believe with every cell of my being that such gifts affect and effect us all in profound ways. Thank you Inok for knowing, for listening, for paying attention to your inner voice, your inherent wisdom, your natural and sublime ability to be a connected mother.

Rethinking Everything- PARENT

Rethinking Everything- LIFERethinking Everything- SEX

Check out our websites and sign up for your FREE subscription to one or ALL of our THREE magazines!


Have you shown us some LIKE? Each magazine has its own Facebook page:

RE Magazine- PARENT

REMagazine- LIFE

REMagazine- SEX

15 Comments Post a comment
  1. Steen #

    I had my first son in a hospital and my daughter at the Birthing Center with a midwife. I used to think my son’s birth went well until I realized how much useless and destructive intervention they had used on me and my son.
    My daughter (again born at birthing center) came out on her own terms, her own time and it was best experience for our family. Two completely different experiences!
    I cry now for both of those experiences except my sons birth I cry that I did not know better; yes I do have some grief. My daughter I cry for the beautiful memories it created for us and how it changed our lives, dramatically. Our next baby will be born at home.

    January 20, 2012
    • Over time we are always learning and growing, Steen. Cry not for what could have been because here you are! ❤

      January 20, 2012
      • Steen #

        Thank you, Sarah! I needed to hear that. And yes, it’s about the take away…

        January 21, 2012
    • learning all the time, it’s always the best we can do, right?

      January 20, 2012
      • Steen #

        YES! It certainly is. The birth of my son lead me to make better choices for my daughter and my future baby. Thanks Barb!

        January 21, 2012
  2. Amy #

    Wow, Inok’s story is so full of courage, examination, choice, perseverance. I am almost speechless. I guess I just feel it so deeply that I am in awe. Thank you, Inok. 🙂

    On the issue of unassisted birth… a deeply personal decision. Ultimately, we live with the results of our choices and I feel that we must make our choices with this knowledge. We are more powerful than we realize, when we tune into the Truth of our being and allow it through…

    Birth – where ever it takes place does not guarantee life. Death is always a possibility. And yet, most often it turns out just fine… 🙂

    I’ve had satisfying births in the hospital and at home. I support others in doing the same, what works for them.

    January 20, 2012
    • I agree with you, Amy. I was deeply involved in preparing couples emotionally for the birth experience as well as assisting and supporting them through the process. Feeling safe and cared for is of primary importance for the smoothest experience and different people satisfy these emotional needs in different venues. There are places and people that can meet this need (and, yes, some can be detrimental). Others find it at home (or at a Best Western!) with the support people of their choice. It is a very personal decision and, as with every decision, we are the creators of the experience if we are going in consciously rather than just going with the cultural current.

      January 20, 2012
    • absolutely. I think what makes a powerful experience is conscious choice, no matter what the choice. When one takes responsibility for deciding what is most important, comfortable, valuable for them, the outcome is automatically better than one who simply allows themselves to be pushed along, on some sort of treadmill, without ownership for decision making.

      January 20, 2012
      • Amy #

        Yes, and I do recall a time in my life not real long ago when I didn’t realize I had the power to choose. Parenting has been so great in that it’s been such a continued process of awakening! I love that. 🙂

        January 22, 2012
  3. I just wanted to raise issue with the term “unassisted.” Inok’s birth was not unassisted–she had a partner who supported her and her own divine guidance as well.

    It’s sort of like describing a penis as uncircumcised rather than intact.

    January 20, 2012
    • <>

      The term ‘unassisted’ refers to assistance by an experienced provider of care. Quinn acted as a primary support person but was not there to lend experienced guidance or intervention.

      There is no doubt that his presence was of key importance for Inok during the process.

      January 20, 2012
    • good point Adrienne and certainly there is a difference between birthing completely alone and with a partner.

      January 20, 2012
  4. I am currently a labor and delivery nurse, but I was an advocate of unassisted birth and midwife-attended homebirth before I ever started working in labor and delivery 10 years ago. In fact, I attempted an unassisted homebirth after cesarean with my last child but ended up transferring out of fear and lack of support. That experience was the final influence in my decision to switch to obstetrical nursing. As someone mentioned, how a woman births is a personal choice. Not only that, even if a woman wants to birth at home, our society of fear often prevents them from trusting the process. I find that the empowered birth community often judges all hospital-based birth professionals, assuming they all have the same controlling mindset. I used to think that I was somehow going to change the system from the inside, and it caused me a lot of frustration. I have made peace with the fact that many women at this time are not freethinking and are simply not ready to take back ownership of their birth experiences from their doctors, so I do what I can to give them choices, control, and support within the environment that they have chosen, even if they opt for an induction, epidural, or elective c-section.

    Anyway, I loved reading Inok’s story, it brought tears to my eyes. So beautiful. This is my wish for our future, that women can give birth from a place of empowerment and not fear. Even if it means that I am out of a job. 😉

    January 22, 2012
    • Absolutely, Jennifer. Birth changes women in untold ways when they are supported in their own power. Nurses who practice this way can assist in catapulting women toward taking charge of the decisions they make for themselves and their families. I have seen it and I know you have, too. Wherever women give birth, they re-enter the world changed. Midwives, doulas, doctors, and nurses have the ability to supplement a woman’s power rather than take it away- and many do. That said, it is also pivotal as healthcare professionals (former, in my situation) that we share our knowledge of the natural flow of birth and what our experience has taught us so that women can consider their birth venue and attendants from a non-fear-based perspective.

      January 22, 2012
    • Amy #

      Jennifer, my second and third births were attended by a doula who is also an OB nurse, much like you. Her trust in my ability helped me trust myself and the sense of safety I felt with her was amazing because I knew she also had the knowledge and understanding of the medical side. It will bee nice when one day all modalities merge and there’s not such a pitting of one against the other.

      January 22, 2012

Tell us what you're thinking

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: