I’ve been a naturally minded minimalist for a long time and have always been yearning to live off-the-grid. This is who I am. Sometimes people call me crazy, or a hippie, or tell me I’m a little strange, but I don’t really mind.
Over time I found people who accepted me, mostly other Christians. Most of the time, no one acted like my “strangeness” was that big of a deal. I eat as healthy as I know how, I make my own household products, and I long to live off the land.
Last summer, I learned that a plant-based diet (similar to a vegan diet) might be best for me. Eating mostly raw plants every day made me feel a lot better, and I lost some extra weight … and I finally got pregnant! (My husband and I had been trying to conceive for more than a year and a half.)
Most people simply responded with congratulations, some were jealous, but as time passed I found out that many were worried that my “eccentric” lifestyle would hurt our child. I discovered the hard way that people often seem to lose their filters when talking to a pregnant woman, especially a new mom.
Suddenly, everyone started showering down advice:
“Since you’re getting a midwife instead of a doctor, make sure that you do your research so you don’t get a quack. I’ve heard horror stories about midwives.”
“Make sure to eat whatever your body is craving.”
“Don’t drink alcohol.”
I couldn’t believe that people thought I was this dumb. Even worse, people were trying to push their opinions onto me:
“If you don’t get the flu shot you’ll get sick this winter and it will hurt your baby.”
“Being vegan verges on child abuse.”
“Everything doctors do for pregnant women is only to help them. The doctors know what they’re doing; they don’t need your consent.”
I had to find somebody, anybody, who would accept me for who I am. It finally hit me one day that I could find supportive groups online. I went to Facebook and searched “natural mothers” and found a group of naturally minded moms right in my city. It was amazing to connect with them. They were accepting of my different lifestyle, and in fact, a few of them believe some of the same things as me. They are a group that accepts and supports extended breastfeeding, healthy eating, natural and holistic healing, natural childbirth, baby-led weaning, baby wearing, co-sleeping, no or slow vaccinations, gentle discipline, attachment parenting, and no infant circumcision.
But I went to one of the meetings and found that it wasn’t everything I needed. These women were a lot like me in some ways, but something was missing. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I got the sense that I needed something more. At about 9 weeks along, I finally had to turn inward and face the fact that there was something I knew I had to do right from the beginning. I knew I had to labor, at home, with just my husband and me. It seemed at first like too much of a radical idea — something that is never planned but only happens when the baby comes too fast. But I knew, from the moment I found out I was pregnant, that I had to do this. Was there anyone else out there who felt in their gut that they couldn’t have a midwife? I decided to find out.
My husband and I had been doing self-care for years and always found that it was best. But could I do self-care in pregnancy and childbirth? Would that be safe for my child? Would it be a foolish risk? I needed to know. I started doing research online and found out that I wasn’t alone! There were people out there who actually planned unassisted childbirths, and I once again found groups on Facebook. There was not a local group for my area but there were many amazing large groups. I found out that unassisted birth is also often called “freebirth.”
I joined the groups and started following the stories. Everyone was asking each other questions, and there was so much respect! Members of these groups accepted that each other is unique, yet we all share this desire to take care of ourselves and we can all learn from each other. I learned that these groups are safe places to ask questions — questions such as, “without ever having an ultrasound, how can I know if the placenta is over the cervix? (I had already learned from others that this is a rare condition that requires a C-section.) I learned that later in pregnancy you can listen with a fetal stethoscope to hear where the placenta is.
We are fortunate that the hospital is very close by so that if I fall into the 1 percent of freebirthers that needs to transfer to the hospital, we can get there quickly. I can’t wait to bring this child into the world without tons of strangers around, poking and prodding her as soon as she is born (I’m only guessing that it’s a girl). I also can’t wait to be able to say, “The same love and intimacy that conceived this child is the same love and intimacy that brought her into the world.” My husband and I are just so excited.
What do you think about “freebirths”? Share your thoughts in the section below: