Unassisted Childbirth and Unschooling
Does giving birth unassisted lead to unschooling?
Unassisted childbirth seems to be a growing trend. Nevertheless, the number of women who give birth unassisted is miniscule. Out-of-hospitals births make up about 1.36% of all births in the U.S. (according to the CDC for 2012). Some of them occur in freestanding birth centers, and some at home. While unassisted births are not tracked at all, it’s pretty clear that most homebirths are actually attended by midwives.
The percentage of parents who are homeschooling their children is also increasing. According to the U.S. Department of Education, homeschooling continues to grow. About 3% of all children are homeschooled right now. This means if you meet someone at the park and tell them you’re a homeschooling and homebirthing Mama, then they won’t look at you funny. They’ll know (or think they know) what you’re talking about, although they might picture your life differently than it really is.
When it comes to unassisted childbirth and unschooling, it’s a lot harder to find numbers. Many states actually regulate homeschooling with certain requirements that make unschooling a bit more challenging. After all, if you’re required to record your child’s learning, it’s a lot easier to do this when you’re following a curriculum or workbook than when your kids are exploring the world on their own. Nevertheless, unschooling is appealing to many parents.
When it comes to both unassisted childbirth and unschooling, there are a wide variety of options available to you. For an unassisted birth, you could choose to have prenatal care with a doctor or midwife, do your own prenatal care, or skip it altogether. For the birth itself, you can choose the location (at home, outdoors, in your car, in a hotel room). When it comes to giving birth unassisted, you will have to make a lot of decisions for yourself (if, when, and how to cut the cord etc.).
Similarly, many parents fall in-between a rigid homeschool curriculum and free-range learning. They may classify themselves as relaxed homeschoolers. But in the end, homeschooling parents retain the autonomy over their child’s learning. How much of it they end up handing over to their kids is also their choice.
I’d venture to say that the type of person who chooses a homebirth may also be more likely to homeschool. However, connecting unassisted childbirth with unschooling is difficult to do without any data at hand. A woman who gives birth unassisted may like to exert control over her child’s learning just like she stays in control of her own birth. On the other hand, she may like to let nature take its course with her child’s learning and help her kids foster the love of learning without forcing it on them.
We are constantly growing as parents. My 2-year-old has more freedom than my oldest one had when she was the same age. This has nothing to do with the kids but rather with my journey as a parent. I encourage my kids to become autonomous and make their own decision whenever possible. At the same time, their education is still my responsibility. I wouldn’t consider myself easily influenced by peer pressure, but I was uneasy when my oldest exhibited no interest in reading until she was 8 1/2. Looking bad, I shouldn’t have worried. It took her no time at all to surpass the reading level her peers are supposed to be at after she really wanted to do it.
The same is true for birth. My third child (first unassisted birth) wasn’t born until 43 weeks and 2 days. At the time, I was extremely concerned about my ability to give birth on my own. But nobody remains pregnant forever. All you have to do is wait. And if given the opportunity, no child will deprive herself of the ability to read. All you have to do is provide the books.