If you’re a woman planning to give birth on your own, you’re not alone. One woman, Diana Sanchez, gave birth in the cell of her Denver County jail. Police and jail officials note that Sanchez was already eight months pregnant, in the early stages of labor and had a medical history that suggested a high-risk pregnancy and early delivery. Still, it’s not the end of the world. If you have never given birth on your own, here are some things to consider.
Women with no antenatal care
The government in Malawi encourages women to give birth in health facilities, but the place of delivery may differ according to women’s perception of the quality of perinatal care. Few studies have addressed the perspectives of women in Malawi about the quality of perinatal care. To fill this gap, the aim of this study was to identify the reasons why women delivered their babies alone and the perceptions of their community’s antenatal care providers.
Women without a doula
Despite these limitations, many women who give birth alone still find it beneficial to have a doula present. Many women say that having a doula during the birth process boosts their confidence as parents. L&D nurses also report that they find doulas to be competent, helpful, and well-suited to the hospital setting. In addition to being present during labor and delivery, a doula offers four essential forms of support to mothers and partners: physical comfort and assistance, socio-emotional support, and verbal support.
Women in urban areas
A new state law requires hospitals to provide a maternity suite to all women giving birth. But women giving birth alone in urban areas are not necessarily safe. Studies have shown that black and Hispanic women give birth at greater risk for life-threatening complications than white women. In fact, studies by Elizabeth A. Howell, Natalia N. Egorova, Teresa Janevic, Amy Balbierz, and Jennifer Zeitlin have found that women of color in urban areas give birth at higher rates than white women.
Women with NOP
Statistics show that the proportion of women with NOP giving birth alone declined by almost thirty percent between 2003 and 2013. The largest decreases were seen in Sokoto State, where the number of women giving birth alone fell by nearly one-third in just four years. In contrast, in the North West, where women tend to be poorer and have higher parity, the number of women giving birth alone rose by almost twenty-seven percent in the same time period. Women with NOP giving birth alone are also more likely to be older, Muslim, and higher parity. Further, they were more likely to be involved in decisions concerning their own health and access antenatal care.
Women in hospitals
Compared to the experience of a partner, women gave birth alone in hospitals are more likely to feel alone and isolated. The presence of a partner or relative can provide the support and companionship a woman needs during the active phase of labour. Additionally, the presence of a partner or relative in the postnatal ward can ease the loneliness and isolation a woman may feel. However, some women felt that having a partner with her during the delivery process could be beneficial.
Women in jail
Pregnant women in prison may feel a sense of isolation and fear, but their situation is far from unique. In one Florida jail, a pregnant woman gave birth alone – in a cell by herself, with no family members to help her. The hospital staff, meanwhile, didn’t care about her situation, even though the patient had a high risk of delivering a child. While prison staff generally try to help these women, some are simply incompetent or inexperienced at handling births.
Other cases of women giving birth alone
Despite Florida’s law mandating labor and delivery, some jails failed to provide proper care for pregnant women. Diana Sanchez’s case highlights the lack of medical attention in jails. While Diana sought assistance from Denver County Jail and the Denver Health Medical Center, she was denied, and she had to give birth in a jail cell. Her attorney, Mari Newman, filed suit against the jails and Denver Health Medical Center, claiming that she was denied proper care and was not allowed to deliver.