Reasons Why I Don’t Want a Midwife At My Birth

As an unassisted birth advocate, I’m often asked why I don’t want a midwife – just in case. Most women who choose to birth at home prefer to have a midwife than “go it alone.”

Midwives are doing wonderful things for birthing women around the world. Without compassionate and competent midwives, birth at home would probably be less common than it is today. Thousands of women in the United States might choose to give birth in the hospital rather than at home, preferring to have an attendant rather than no attendant.

However, let me share with you the reasons why I don’t want a midwife – I’ve stated most of these in my book, during interviews or conversations:

  1. 1. Since I view birth as something that is private, I don’t want to feel as if I am “performing” in front of others. I don’t want a room full of other women watching and helping me birth a child.

  2. 2. An agreement with a midwife is a temporary contractual arrangement. You pay for services. Some women bond too closely with their midwives, as do women with their doctors – it’s not completely healthy (psychologically) and is often an unequal perceived friendship.

  3. 3. Midwives are bound by state laws, some of which are arbitrary or enacted because someone thinks there is an increased risk or possibility of danger. I knew an expectant Mom who had a midwife attended birth in the state of Virginia and if she did not produce the baby within 18 hours of the amniotic sac / water breaking, she would have to be transported to the hospital. Some women take up to 25 or 30 hours; some unassisted birthers have been known to have 41-44 weeks gestation before the baby decided to be born.

  4. 4. Some midwives act as “medwives,” bringing some of the medical procedures done in the hospital into the home. Childbirth, in my view, is not a medical procedure. We need doctors and midwives in certain circumstances, but not for normal, routine births.

  5. 5. Having “strangers” at your birth can inhibit the birth process, thus interfering with the “normal” unfolding of events. Each birth is like a story, containing an introduction, rising action and climax. Unassisted birth allows for the full cycle to take place with limited interference. Here’s what author Laura Shanley says about the hormonal effects on the birth process:

It has also been shown that social subordination (feeling dominated by, or inferior to someone) can suppress estrogen levels as effectively as the removal of ovaries (Robert M. Sapolsky, Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, W. H. Freeman & Company, 1998).  Since a rise in estrogen is known to be the central key for normal labor and delivery, if a woman giving birth feels dominated by her midwife, this alone can alter the course of her labor. 

      This could explain why some women report feeling a change in the "energy" when a midwife or doctor enters the room.  If the laboring woman views this person as an authority figure, her estrogen levels can literally plummet.  Without estrogen, the fibrous tissue cannot soften and childbirth becomes impossible.  Estrogen is also needed to close the womb.  So when a midwife or doctor claims they have prevented a woman from hemorrhaging, they have no way of knowing if the hemorrhage would have occurred if they hadn't been at the birth.