What is Unassisted Childbirth?

Ever since my book, Unassisted Childbirth, was published, people have been sending me their birth stories. Each story is special in its own way, but occasionally someone sends me something that totally knocks my socks off. When Kym Smythe wrote to me a few years ago saying she had just had an accidental unassisted birth of unexpected twins, I was appropriately blown away. What could be more fascinating – or unusual – than unexpectedly catching your baby and then discovering that you were carrying twins? Believe it or not, in the past few years, I’ve come across other women who have experienced the same thing. Here are some quotes from some of their stories.

“As Doug was hanging up with the midwife, I had a much more intense contraction with an overwhelming, out of nowhere, urge to push! I grunted to Doug that I felt like I had to push and that I didn’t know if we were going to make it to the birth center. I tensed my whole body trying to resist the urge to push. When I relaxed, at the end of that contraction, Kendall Grace literally slid out and Doug caught her as I was still standing in the shower with the water running. Kendall looked up into my eyes, cried a bit, then settled down. Doug and I looked at each other and said something to the effect of – oh my God, we had a baby. We were amazed! Then we took a minute to think – what do we do now. Doug threw a towel over us and we shuffled her over to our bed. Not knowing how long the cord was, I was afraid to stand up straight so I laid down with Kendall on my chest and we put lots of blankets on top of us. Doug called the midwife to tell her we had a baby and see what to do next. We prepared to deliver the placenta.

While gathering more blankets and towels, Doug woke up Kyle and tried unsuccessfully to rouse Cary. Now Kyle and our dog Bernie joined us in bed. As I felt a contraction I pushed. A little fluid and a bit of the membrane came out. A few minutes later I pushed with another contraction. I had been expecting a ‘squishy little push,’ but we were all in for the surprise of our lives. I thought, ‘Oh no, that’s not a placenta… that’s another head!’ At the same time, Doug was on the phone with the midwife saying, ‘Uh oh, there’s another one!’ (We were NOT expecting twins.) Carlie Ann’s head was delivered with that push and the rest of her came with the next one. She wasn’t crying right away, but responded quickly to being rubbed while on my chest. Doug admits to making sure a third baby wasn’t on the way.”
-From “Home Sweet Home Home” by Kym Smythe

“I continue relaxing, moaning and groaning very loudly and my husband comments, ‘You sound especially melodic this morning, Dear.’ I try to smile but the contractions are just one right after another. I ‘sing’ some more to let the baby out. I tell Tom I need to push. He doesn’t hesitate one second and walks around the bed to get in better position. I birth her head just as he puts his hands there. Her body quickly follows as she is a tiny 7 lbs., 5 oz. ‘Hmmm…where’s that 10 pounder I thought I was having?’ Oh well, that’s over so we get organized with blankets, hat, herbs and a bowl….Then I feel a strong contraction and suddenly, without pain, I feel the birth canal fill up. I think to myself, ‘That does not feel like a placenta.’ I look down and there, still in her veil and face up, is another precious baby! I scream, ‘Oh my God! It’s twins!’ She has turned to the side and I support her head, breaking the bag of water as her body slips out. Then I realize that I am still holding the first baby. Everyone comes running back into the room. We gasp, laugh, giggle and cry and at 6:20 welcome another 7 pound baby girl. For just one split second I think, ‘Now that’s it, right? Just two?!’
-From “Twins Can Be Born Naturally!” by Audrey Trepiccione, (The New Nativity II, July 1995)

“I had pictured laboring in front of a cozy fire, but as my contractions had become so intense we decided to move upstairs to our bedroom. About six and a half hours later, at 5:40 AM, our Angela was born. In the privacy of our own bedroom, we were able to kiss and caress her into the world with no outside interference….Two and a half minutes later, much to my shock and surprise, Ashley literally shot forth into her daddy’s hands. I held both babies, already nursing Angela, while Jerry called a good friend and neighbor for help. Maureen arrived to hold one baby while we handed another to Debbie, our oldest daughter. Somewhere in there Jerry had managed to tie off and cut both cords with double thick dental floss….We are still amazed, almost 26 months later. And yes! twins are double work, but oh what joy! I could go on, but you know how we moms are about our children. I and my beloved are indeed, and at last, happy homebirthers.”
-From “Our Story of Twin Girls,” by Barbara Milton (The New Nativity  #56, 1990)

Note from Laura: These next three passages don’t exactly qualify as “unassisted births of unexpected twins” but I thought they were interesting so I’m including them here. The first one is a newspaper account of a birth of sextuplets that took place in 1958. The second passage was taken from a card I just received from Corey Alicks. Corey is a 37 year-old woman I’ve been corresponding with for several years. She discovered she was carrying twins several weeks before their birth. After I received her card, I called her and got all the juicy details. She told me the birth was very easy. She caught one baby, held it in one arm, and then reached down with the other hand and caught the second.

The last passage was taken from the book Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine, by George M. Gould, A.M., M.D., and Walter L. Pyle, A.M., M,D. (The Julian Press, Inc., 1896).

Birth of Sextuplets Reported in Iran

HEHRAN, Iran, April 1, 1958 (Reuters) – The evening newspaper Keihan said today that a woman, 32, in South Iran gave birth to sextuplets, four boys and two girls on Friday. Keihan said the mother, Fatemeh, wife of Heman, gave birth to the children while attending sheep in the fields near Ahwaz in southern Iran. She wrapped the children in her black veil, and sent her sister to the village for help to carry them home.

“Dear Laura,
I gave birth recently to TWINS! BY MYSELF!! It was lovely and easy and incredible!! Thought you’d like to hear about it!

These twins were born
without obstetrics
without a Caesarean section
without doctors
without complications
without trauma
without technology or instruments
despite a previous caesarean
without drugs
at full term
at full weight
with no assistance
by their mother’s own power
into only their mother’s hands
under water
in utter peace
by candle and firelight
in their own home
surrounded by love and safety and warmth
witnessed by the whole family
as a testament
to the complete rightness of
birth in its purest form

Corey, Peter, Hans, Anna and Eva
With overflowing hearts
Announce that
Corey gave birth to twins
By herself
At home, in water
On February 28, 2000

Noah Alicks Lie-Nielsen
7:42 pm 7 lbs 8 oz
&
Sarah-Sophia Alicks Lie-Nielsen
7:54 pm 8 lbs

Join us as we welcome these incredible babies and celebrate the mystery and wonder of their sacred and extraordinary birth.”

“A woman was delivered on January 18th, by a midwife, of a full-grown and healthy female child. On the third day she came down-stairs and resumed her ordinary duties, which she continued until February 4th (seventeen days after). At this time she was delivered of twins, a boy and a girl, healthy and well-developed. The placenta was of the consistency of jelly and had to be scooped away with the hand. The mother and children did well. This woman was the mother of ten children besides the product of this conception, and at the latter occurrence had entire absence of pains and a very easy parturition.”
-From Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine, by George M. Gould, A.M., M.D., and Walter L. Pyle, A.M., M,D.