Women Giving Birth Without Midwives

We had a baby 2 weeks ago, without a doctor or a midwife present.

The story of our unassisted birth is featured on ABC News, written by an AP reporter who came to our house seven days after our daughter was born.

Here’s the first paragraph:

When Jennifer Margulis went into labor with her fourth child, she sent her husband off to take the kids to school, then waited at home for her body to do what she felt confident it had evolved over millions of years to do on its own.


There was no rushing to the hospital, no midwife, no EMTs. Just Jennifer and her husband, home alone, giving birth.


“I think a lot of people think a woman who would want to have an unassisted birth would be a little bit crazy,” said Margulis, who holds a Ph.D. in literature, and is a contributing editor for Mothering Magazine. “I think I may have had that reaction as well. I am definitely not a crazy person. I am a very educated, thoughtful and caring person. I am not a person who takes a lot of unnecessary risks. The whole point is it is not risky if you do your homework.”


Nationwide, 90 percent of births still take place in hospitals with doctors attending, said Oregon State University medical anthropologist and midwife Melissa Cheney. Another 8 to 10 percent are with midwives in hospitals or birthing centers. And 1 to 2 percent are at home.


The numbers of at-home births that are unattended are impossible to track, Cheney said.

You can read the whole story and see some nice photographs here.

My version of the unassisted birth, warts and moans and all, can be found on Mothering magazine’s website: A Baby Born on Wednesday.


Jennifer Margulis reading to orphans in Niger. Photo by Dina Bernardin.

Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., is an award-winning freelance writer, Fulbright grantee, and mother of four. A former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism and author of Your Baby, Your Way: Taking Charge of Your Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Parenting Decisions for a Happier, Healthier Family, Dr. Margulis lives with her family in Ashland, Oregon. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.

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Categories: pregnancy and childbirth.


  1. What a great story.

    I’m a freelance writer in Eugene. I’ve heard you on the radio and read many of your articles over the years in Mothering and elsewhere, and I’ve been very inspired by your career.

    It was also exciting to see so many quotes by Missy Cheyney in the story. She was my fabulous midwife for my son’s birth last year.

    Congratulations to you and your family!

  2. Jennifer! I wandered over here from FLX and had no idea that you were into birth and babies and all that. Congratulations! My last three children were both born with midwives; the last 2 at my state’s first birth center. Home birth and free birth defintiely appeal to me.

    Did you see/hear about the live birth online a few weeks ago? Started some interesting conversations on Twitter.


  3. Thanks very much for stopping by Abby. I’m glad to know you’ve felt inspired. Missy Cheyney sounds like a very wonderful midwife. I was particularly grateful that the article was so even-handed and did not spout a lot of mainstream fear but rather presented our stories (and other people’s opinions) in a fair and unbiased way.

  4. Jennifer, I didn’t see/hear about that live birth. I need to get onto Twitter but I haven’t managed to do that yet (even all this blogging is relatively new to me and I’ve been on a sharp learning curve). I’d love to know more about it!

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