When to Seek Medical Assistance as a Freebirther

The idea of an unassisted pregnancy and childbirth is not to seek medical assistance at all. When a woman and her baby are healthy, there is really no need for medical intervention in pregnancy or childbirth. But the most carefully laid plans sometimes go astray. The bottom line is: there is nothing wrong with seeking medical attention even if you end up giving birth in a hospital as long as that is your desire. But you may wonder when you should seek medical assistance, and when you might prefer to stay away from doctors to have the birth you really want.

Always Do Your Research

For someone who wants to give birth unassisted, it’s really important to always do your research FIRST. While there are some situations in which you need to act quickly and can’t afford to surf the Internet for answers, that’s usually not the case. For example, you have to act quickly in a case of umbilical cord prolapse or if the mother’s or baby’s life is otherwise at risk. And of course, if you feel that you need medical attention ASAP, then you should trust your instincts.

Doing your research first is difficult. I could have probably avoided at least one trip to the hospital if I had done that. After my first unassisted birth (but my third birth), I experienced really bad afterpains. It was so painful that I couldn’t even stand up straight. I also knew that I had torn during birth. Therefore, the next day I went to the hospital. In retrospect, I now realize that having bad afterpains is not unusual at all. In fact, they tend to get worse with second and subsequent pregnancies. At the hospital, I was just told to take Ibuprofen (which I already had at home). And for the tearing, nothing was done. It had been after 24 hours since I gave birth, and the doctor said he wouldn’t stitch for fear of infection. But I healed just fine on my own from what turned out to be a second-degree tear.

In some cases, you might feel very alarmed for what turns out to be nothing. For example, both of my boys had a little bit of bleeding on their belly button after the cord fell of. Seeing blood on the diaper isn’t fun, but after a quick search, I wasn’t concerned anymore. Of course, bleeding can be a concern in this situation, but only if it doesn’t heal over time or bleeds continuously. In addition to looking things up online, you also need to trust your own judgment. If it doesn’t feel right, you can always get a medical opinion other than WebMD.

Know What You Want

I am sure doctors are tired of patients who self-diagnose their own case before walking into the office. But from my perspective it makes sense. Doing your research first allows you to be prepared. If a doctor had offered to remove any remaining pieces of placenta via a D&C, I probably would have declined because that’s not what I want. And that’s one of the reasons I wouldn’t go in again for afterpains, because there’s nothing else a doctor can really do for you.

I have hypothyroidism and have been taking hormones for years. (If anyone has any resources on how to heal this condition without medication, I’d love to hear about it.) During pregnancy, I need a higher dosage, but afterwards, my needs go down. Most doctors won’t prescribe new medication unless the blood work verifies it, even though I know what I need based on previous experience and how I feel. After giving birth this last time, the doctor would have left me on the higher dosage based on the blood work alone (although according to the normal range, she shouldn’t have but that’s another story). But I needed to be adjusted, because I was having difficulty sleeping and I was always hungry. Now that my prescription got changed, I feel much better in both respects.

If you have no idea what’s wrong, then you probably don’t know what you want your doctor to do. But if you have an idea of what might be causing your problems, you can figure out what you want to happen. And if you decide that there’s nothing a doctor can offer you that would make it better, then you might choose not to get medical treatment after all. For example, if you don’t want to take antibiotics for a sinus infection, then going to the doctor is kind of useless, because there’s nothing else he can really do to help.

Find Supportive Professionals

It can be really difficult to find a doctor who will be hands-off, especially for pregnancy and childbirth. But if you can find a doctor who isn’t tied to prescribing unnecessary medication, then that’s a big step forward. Ultimately, if you need medical assistance quickly, you’ll most likely end up going to your local hospital. And for life-threatening situations, that is the best place to be.