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Amy in laborSK: What changes did you make before your second was born? Did you go into that birth thinking that you would do things differently?

Amy: The one thing I really wanted to do differently was let my body and my baby work together to decide this baby’s birthday. I started to realize how important that is for me and for the process. I also drilled my husband about the fact that since epidural anesthesia was offered at this hospital I would probably at some point ask for it at the very end and his job was to talk me out of it. His job was to be strong when I didn’t have the strength to push on, or didn’t think I did — I believe my exact words were, “Don’t let me get drugs or I will kick you in the face!”

SK: Same question for your third.

Amy: During this pregnancy I became enveloped in the birth world. I needed to know things, I needed to learn things, I wanted to eat, sleep and breathe pregnancy and birth. I read many, many books, I spent time on the computer. I prayed a lot about this birth and this baby. My husband and I joked often about just “accidentally” having the baby ourselves but never could wrap our minds about it enough to follow through with it. I daydreamed about it. I daydreamed about having this baby in a tent by the lake even.

Home birth in Nebraska

SK: Is home birth in Nebraska legal?

Amy: Yes, home birth is legal in Nebraska, contrary to popular belief. Assistance by a certified nurse midwife during a home birth is Illegal. Certified professional midwives aren’t recognized in Nebraska. And physicians are barred from attending home births by the hospitals who hire them and set their limitations. But yes, home birth in and of itself is perfectly legal.

SK: When did you begin to consider the idea of an unassisted home birth?

Amy: We honestly considered it with our third child but just never could make up our minds to actually do it. After her birth I delved into finding people, especially people in my own little state that I could hound with every sort of question that ever crossed my mind. I wanted to hear stories of people who had done it. I read books. I met people in other states who had planned and carried out home births, specifically unassisted.

"I did tell my doctor that I planned to stay home as long as possible and if that meant the whole thing then so be it"

SK: Who did you tell about your plans?

Amy: Honestly very few people. We kept it on a need-to-know basis. I did tell my doctor that I planned to stay home as long as possible and if that meant the whole thing then so be it. I think he didn’t take me seriously. I think he rather thought I meant, “Well I’m going to stay home until I’m really, really dilated, not through pushing... with sort of a pipe dream and no preparations for actually staying home.”

Preparations and plans

SK: What preparations did you make in the months preceding his birth?

Amy: I did self prenatal care (weighing, measuring my fundus, listening to the heartbeat) and then saw a doctor after 30 weeks of pregnancy when I knew exactly what we were doing. We had an ultrasound at that point. I ended up nabbing a newborn scale, and a stethoscope (both a quarter each) at a garage sale when we were in the beginning stages of planning for our home birth. I also got a birth kit. It included things like umbilical cord clamps, chux pads, measuring tape, some tinctures for hemorrhaging and such, just all sorts of things.

I did lots of research. I did a lot of looking into what do you do if this happens? What do you do if that happens? What constitutes a real emergency? What is normal, physiological birth so that I can tell if mine is deviating from the norm? I also borrowed a birthing pool from a friend who had a birth a couple months prior.

SK: Did you have a back-up plan in case of an emergency?

Amy: The ultimate back-up plan was “go in” — we lived four blocks from the hospital, with the idea of taking a bite out of my own placenta, cord, or membranes should bleeding arise. I also had the tinctures on hand. But like I said, the ultimate plan was always go in, that’s what hospitals are for — emergencies. I am in no way anti-hospital.

My perspective is that if the situation warrants it, I want a doctor who is available — not helping someone who doesn’t need help, or overtired because he spent all night with a mom who didn’t need his help. So I sought to be that person, to show him the same respect of not coming in and wasting his time unless it was necessary. I love them and they are good at what they do — I just don’t feel they need to do their thing until it’s necessary.

SK: How did you prepare yourself for recognizing an emergency?

"My main concern was hemorrhage. So I did a lot of reading about that"

Amy: I think it is instinctual as well as physiological. I think if you take time to listen to your body it will let you know if something is wrong. I feel like it’s important to know what normal is, or variations of normal so that you know what “not normal” is. I prayed a lot, I thought a lot, I daydreamed a lot. I also listened to Baby’s heartbeat with the stethoscope during labor. I also just have this huge deep-down belief that when you don’t mess with the process, it is less likely to go awry. We are intricately and wonderfully made and I believe that includes this process, the giving of life.

My main concern was hemorrhage. So I did a lot of reading about that. Most helpful were Dr. Michel Odent’s thoughts on the whole idea and just birth itself. That reassured me a lot. I didn’t want to just leave it with, “What do I do if it happens” — but even further how can I prevent it from happening?

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Comments on "Home birth, without a midwife: Unassisted childbirth"

Anita November 21, 2012 | 1:45 PM

This is a beautiful article! Having an unassisted home birth is really miraculous. I just gave birth to my third baby unassisted. As Amy says it's really not that difficult, your body is meant to do it. What helped me was to pinpoint any real fears and research them. A big one for me was: What if the baby is not breathing? My husband helped me out here. What would a doctor or midwife do? Give the baby oxygen and you can do that with CPR! It's easy to get certified and then you don't have to worry about this. It's not likely anyways. My baby had no issues whatsoever, but just in case, it's good to be prepared. www.diymotherhood

Amanda November 20, 2012 | 2:38 PM

I am 19 years old and I live in Nebraska as well, the second me and the father found out I was pregnant we looked into midwives, after lots of research I found out here and Alabama its illegal, you can have an at home birth just no lisenced practitioner can be there, this is my first child, I am only three and 1/2 months, but I have been trying to do as much research as I can before the baby comes, my sister had to have a c-section because the umbelical cord was around the babys head twice and Im concerned something might happen if i have an at home, though I am pretty head strong that I do. I talked to my doctor and a few other, we planned on buying a pool and having a room ready, just to be prepared for anything, my mother is if-yy about it but wants to help, and my doctor and womens center I go to Think it isnt a good idea. Im very worried and was doing research when I came across this story my heart sank when I found out she was from my own state, but that wasnt her first child either it was her fourth. I guess I am just looking for some clear thoughts and help from people that have went through this to know what is safe for my baby, and me.

Ariel August 13, 2012 | 7:13 AM

Hi Amy, my husband and I are planning our third home birth and are considering not using a midwife this time. Where did you get most of your research from? Do you have any books or sites you reccomend? Thanks so much for your story!

Christy August 07, 2012 | 9:49 PM

Congratulations Amy! We have four children, with this progression of births: birth center, homebirth with midwife, unassisted homebirth due to fast labor, planned unassisted prenatal care and homebirth. We are very comfortable with birth and believe complications are rare when the mom is undisturbed. She instinctively knows what to do. I did a lot of study on what to just in case of complication or emergency. I wanted to be prepared, but as I expected, all went well. I fully support moms birthing wherever and with whoever they choose.

Lindsay July 26, 2012 | 6:33 PM

this is exactly the reason my husband and I stayed home to welcome our first child into the world. I had an inner voice just telling me so. I did a lot of yoga and meditation those last six weeks, tried to work with the hospital (sign waivers and such) in the weeks leading up to her birth day but I never felt comfortable in the hospital. everything in my body was telling me to follow my gut and stay home, in my tub. so I did. best decision of my life. I have received a lot of "you're crazy" comments and people telling me I put my baby at risk but you're right - intuition knows more than any doctor, nurse, scientist, anyone. my intuitive voice was so loud, I couldn't block it out. I just KNEW that is how my baby girl was to enter the world. so with the help of my sister (my bestest friend)and my incredible husband, we had a great birth day. all 19 hours of it! whew! I was exhausted at the end of that but I have a beautiful baby girl who has been bright, alert and strong since the first day of her life on earth. congrats to you!!!

Erica July 25, 2012 | 9:38 AM

While this might seem unusual for modern times, we shouldn't forget that women gave birth without doctors or fancy medical equipment for hundreds and hundreds of years. I say, to each her own!

Julie July 23, 2012 | 11:26 AM

Critics of home birth might say this is "crazy" - but what is really crazy is the ongoing standard of hospital births in this country which creates a multitude of complications with negative results. Our "civilized" nation now has an embarrassing 32% cesarean rate - are we supposed to believe that a third of all moms are incapable of delivering their own babies? Kudos to Amy and her courage based on faith in the natural process.

Amy Bauman July 22, 2012 | 8:22 PM

There is one more thing I wanted to say,its a nice sentiment but it kinda makes me sad to see so many people say the words amazing, this should be a normal natural process and I feel like we are so used to being pushed and prodded and second guessed that it is hard for us to even view it in that light. I think pregancy and birth are normal but for the most part the way we handle them are what is not. I'm praying that changes.

Amy Bauman July 22, 2012 | 8:14 PM

Yes, I used a stethoscope to listen a few times during labor. Morso at he begining of labor.

Kim Mosny, CPM July 21, 2012 | 7:57 PM

What a great birth story. I didn't read whether or not you monitored your baby's heartbeat at all during your labor. Just curious.

Tina July 21, 2012 | 4:20 PM

Wow this is great. I agree with everyone else that Amy is amazing!! I don't know if I'd consider a home-birth, but I definitely want my next delivery to be a little more low key and simple. Not only is it better for baby, but having a baby in a hospital is VERY expensive. If I researched and was prepared, I would be wiling to do something a little out of the ordinary for birth.

Amber July 21, 2012 | 11:32 AM

Yes, Amy IS amazing. I dare anyone who knows her to profess otherwise. And to those who don't know her, your judgement regarding how many children she and her husband chose to welcome into this world...says something negative about YOU!

Teacher July 20, 2012 | 2:10 PM

Wonderful interview, Amy! I'm so proud that you were open to sharing your experiences even knowing you could face ridicule and judgment. You've given an amazing testimony here. Thank you. Carol, while comments are certainly open to the public, you state your thoughts as if it they are fact w/o presenting any peer-reviewed literature. We all make guesses at what our planet can sustain, yet at this point in time there is no scientific proof of overpopulation or an inability to sustain life on Earth. Evidence goes both ways. In fact, many make the argument that our planet could sustain over 50 billion if we did things like move from eating meat to eating a vegetable-only diet. Nevertheless, I hardly think this article on unassisted childbirth is the place to have such a judgmental debate over when it's time to "slow down on having kids...". Women's/parent's choice on number of children is just that, their personal choice.

Angie July 20, 2012 | 9:17 AM

Amy IS amazing. And her 5+ children born into a stable and loving home are the LEAST of this planet's worries.

Carol July 20, 2012 | 8:44 AM

I think it is time to slow down on having kids.....this planet is only able to sustain so much life....when are as humans going to take responsibility for this? So praising a mom who keeps wanting to add more, I think is adding fuel to the fire. C

Monica July 20, 2012 | 8:08 AM

Amy is amazing.

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