The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Unassisted child birth in the US: results from an online survey


Department of Anthropology, University of South Florida

Saturday All day, Plaza Level Add to calendar

In response to the medicalization of birth in the United States, women are seeking alternative birthing options. The use of midwives for prenatal care, labor, and delivery is gaining recognition as an alternative to obstetrician care. A smaller segment of birthing mothers are choosing to experience unassisted home birth (birth without the assistance of a birthing professional) and solo home birth (birth without assistance from any person).

Facebook (FB) is a major source of information and support for mothers and mothers to be. There are currently three FB pages that support unassisted birth with 10,410 FB users who have ‘liked’ these pages.

As a preliminary step into research with the unassisted birthing community, a survey was posted to these three FB pages. The surveys sought basic demographic data and childbirth scenarios that the respondents had experienced. The survey received 215 respondents. Birth experiences varied with the majority stating they had given birth with a midwife attending (83%). Most respondents (84%) had given birth at home. Respondents reported giving birth at home without the assistance of a professional birth attendant (34%). Approximately half of these ‘unassisted births’ were ‘caught’ by a friend or family member (18%) and 34 (16%) respondents stated they had given birth at home and ‘caught’ their own baby.

These data indicate that within a segment of the Euro-American population (99% of respondents) that is moving away from medicalized birth, the majority of births are attended by birth professionals. These data support the theory of obligate midwifery.

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