Unassisted Childbirth

Unassisted Childbirth, Third Edition (paperback) has arrived!

Image module
Buy from Amazon


Forward by Michel Odent, MD

  1. We’ve Come a Long Way – Or Have We?
  2. The Dangers of Medical Intervention
  3. The Psychological Effects of a Traumatic Birth on a Family
  4. Why Physicians Insist on Intervening
  5. Personal Beliefs and Expectations
  6. Dreams, Impulses, Intuition and Emotions – Our Psychological Lifeline to the Inner Self
  7. Stories of Unassisted Births
  8. The Case for Autonomous Birth
  9. My Story

Unassisted Childbirth Resources


Someday women will not give birth in hospitals because they will realize that childbirth is not a disease. They will not pay physicians thousands of dollars to probe them and cut them and tell them what to do. They will not submit themselves to IVs, fetal monitors, vaginal examinations, or Cesarean sections. Nor will they take the hospitals into their homes, bringing there the well-meaning substitute doctors – the midwives – with their sterilized instruments, rubber gloves, and breathing techniques. For, none of this will be necessary.

Instead, like their animal sisters, women will someday deliver their own babies peacefully and painlessly at home. Women will understand that birth is only dangerous and painful for those who believe it is.

Someday, both women and men will understand that childbirth (and every other event in their lives) is the result of their individual beliefs. They will no longer listen to the voices of officialdom telling them that their lives are beyond their self-conscious control. They will listen instead to the inner authroity saying, “Your life is your own creation. Believe in yourself and you have nothing to fear.”

My goal in writing this book is to help make that someday today.

What People are Saying

Laura Shanley, through remarkable insight into herself and prodigious research into childbirth history, explores a unique and increasingly popular way of giving birth in America today.

— Randi Hutter Epstein, MD, author of Get Me Out: A History of Childbirth from the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank

Shanley’s excellent research on alternatives to hospital births, coupled with her inspiring personal knowledge, compels me to enthusiastically recommend Unassisted Childbirth for the mother-to-be looking for alternatives. It should also be prominently displayed in libraries and healthcare centers.

— Steve Brock, Reviews on the Web

Unassisted Childbirth, the Nurturing Magazine Book of the Year in 1998 is sharp, intelligent, empowering, and boldly truthful. If a woman is going to buy any book on birth, this is the only one she’ll need! Unassisted Childbirth is not only the best book on this subject, it is a ground-breaking work that will take its place in history as being the book on birth that can’t be matched in its message, delivery, power and impact. Future books on unassisted childbirth will try in vain to accomplish what this book has – so effortlessly, so easily, and with such unwavering belief that women can birth and catch their own babies. Reading this book is like being struck by the light, receiving the answer to the meaning of life, and coming back to earth to experience it.

— Marnie Ko Editor and Publisher of Nurturing Magazine, November 1998

Laura Shanley has been courageous in her own obstetrical history and stalwart in presenting her story in such a detailed and honest fashion….My own conclusion after reading Unassisted Childbirth, is that having a baby at home, in a natural, loving environment would be ideal….Unassisted Childbirth is often moving and always provocative.

— Ruth J. Carter, Ph.D. Editor-in-Chief, Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Journal

This book did not threaten me as a midwife. Instead, it opened my eyes to the need to defend and protect the natural birth process in as noninterventive a way as is safely possible.

— Jill Cohen Midwifery Today

Unassisted Childbirth is more than a practical guide. It is an inspiration for every parent regardless of whether they plan to give birth at home, childbearing center, or in the hospital. It inspires confidence and creates the positive attitude toward birth that reduces the fear and pain of labor.

— Carl Jones, C.C.E. Author of Mind Over Labor and The Expectant Parent’s Guide to Preventing a Cesarean Section

Every once in a while, a new book about childbirth comes along that demands our attention. Unassisted Childbirth, by Boulder’s Laura Kaplan Shanley, is one such book.

— Pamela White, The Colorado Daily

For the past ten years I have been using Laura’s book to educate families on their options and help them realize how much of an impact they have in creating their births without fear dictating outcome. Several dozen families I have worked with chose to give birth alone. Out of them all, not one was disappointed in their choice. I encourage the use of this book for ANY family having a baby, whether unassisted or not, as it holds much value in creating faith in ones body with inner wisdom, not outside interference!

— Zuki Abbott; Holistic Midwife & Author of This Sacred Life, Transforming Our World through Birth

Unassisted Childbirth is a classic book, written by a classy author who tells the truth about birth. Laura Shanley explains why it is imperative to examine ones beliefs, expectations and fears, and offers parents suggestions as to what they can do to enhance their childbirth experience. Thousands of women are surprised and disappointed with their birth experiences because they fail to realize how much of their inner world unfolds during the birth of their baby. Every pregnant woman should read this book to see what is possible.

— Lynn M. Griesemer, author of Unassisted Homebirth: An Act of Love

In my opinion it is a book that all midwives could benefit from reading. I also feel all pregnant women, particularly those planning to birth at home could find this book useful…. The issues of being responsible for creating our own experience that the author raises are relevant to us all.

— Mary McKenzie-McHarg Australian Society of Independent Midwives’ Communique

Long has my vision been that every mother is a midwife – all women giving birth can do so without medical involvement. Here is a book which not only validates my life work, but goes deeply into the psychological terrain a mother who gives unassisted childbirth inevitably journeys. There have been few road maps for this exploration before Shanley’s book

— Jeannine Parvati Baker Author of Conscious Conception, and Prenatal Yoga and Natural Birth

Although I am personally an advocate of planned, midwife-attended home birth, I also believe that we must make conceptual and legal room in the technocracy for those women who choose to fully claim their power as birth-givers by going it alone. This is a very brave book and Laura Kaplan Shanley is a remarkable and courageous woman.

— Robbie Davis-Floyd, Ph.D. author of Birth as an American Rite of Passage

Most alarming book title of 1994.

— The Houston Chronicle