With the costs of hospital birth skyrocketing—an average of $10,000 to $12,000 for a vaginal birth and $15,000 to $20,000 for a Cesarean—many women are searching for a more economical alternative, such as home birth, hiring a midwife, and unassisted birth.
After losing insurance coverage, Amanda Witman, mother of four from Vernon, Vermont, decided to explore other methods that would offer a safe birthing alternative while saving her family thousands of dollars. "We hired a home birth midwife and it cost us around $3,000 for that birth, which was a bargain compared to the price tag of even the most basic hospital-birth option," says Witman. "I loved my home-birth experience and highly recommend home birth to anyone who feels they are open to birthing at home."
When the Witman's fourth child was due, circumstances had taken a turn for the worse and her husband was now unemployed. They chose a brave option that not many people try—an unassisted birth. "Our combined experience—my husband's EMT training, our experience with three previous births and my own interest in researching natural births—gave us the idea that maybe we could do it ourselves," says Witman. "So we planned an unassisted birth, prepared carefully for it and had a healthy and satisfying experience."
Witman doesn't recommend an unassisted birth for everyone, though. "Throughout the experience it felt safe and right, but we were prepared to change our plan in an instant if that changed," says Witman. "If it doesn't feel right to someone to birth unassisted, it won't be the right choice for them."