Contact Us

My Unassisted, Unexpected Home Birth

My Unassisted, Unexpected Home Birth


When I am pregnant I enjoy reading pregnancy and birth stories, and dreaming of the type of birth I’d like to have. I once read a story of a woman who gave birth in a car because the baby came out much quicker than expected, and wishfully laughed, wishing I would be blessed with such an easy birth. Little did I know what G‑d had in store for me.

A day before my due date, I was chopping up vegetables for supper while chatting on the phone with my closest friend. All of a sudden I felt a pain, not a contraction, but a pulling and moderately painful sensation. When I mentioned it to my friend, she suggested that it may be the beginning of labor, but I laughed her off, as all of my previous births had been ten days to two weeks after the official due date.

My body knew exactly what it was supposed to doLater that night, contractions woke me up. I waited about forty-five minutes to see whether the contractions were steady and that labor had been established, and then called my midwife, who suggested I stay home, as the contractions were only lasting forty seconds. She said they’d have to last at least a minute and twenty seconds to warrant going to the hospital. It was 2:30 AM by then, so I decided not to wake my husband until I really needed him.

And so I labored.

During previous births I had been “blessed” with back labor, and this one was no different. However, the contractions were not as intensely painful as in previous births, which is why I did not think I was in the advanced labor stage yet. I doulaed myself: when the contractions peaked I’d apply counterpressure in the painful spots on my back with my fist, I’d breathe and count and get through them, one by one, closing my eyes and resting in between contractions.

For my first birth, which was attended by a midwife in a hospital, I brought along a doula because my mother lives overseas, so I wanted an advocate—and she was indeed very helpful. For my next births I birthed with a midwife in a hospital. I have to say that when the contractions peaked I very much depended on her, squeezing her arm, barely allowing her to move from my side during transition.

Yet here I was, doing everything alone, contracting, riding the waves, reassuring myself. And it was simultaneously so amazing and yet so completely natural. I had been blessed with the ability and power to bring a new life into this world. And while it is great to have wonderful and caring practitioners to support us, and crucially important that help be accessible when unique medical situations or emergencies arise, I discovered that my body knew exactly what it was supposed to do. So I followed its lead and did what I never thought was possible.

The longest contraction lasted forty-five seconds. I walked around the house and watered my tomato seedlings. I tried to do my work on the computer, but did not have the patience for it. I showered, allowing the water to soothe my aching back as the contractions peaked—and then, before I knew it, it was 6:30 AM and the kids woke up.

Reality hadn’t yet hit. I did not immediately think it could be the baby!I must have been close to transition, even though I did not realize it then, as I did not have any patience for anything. I woke my husband and updated him on the situation. He took over, taking them downstairs, feeding them breakfast and dressing them in preparation for a trip to the hospital, as we live far from family and had no one we could call at that early hour.

The contractions became more intense and painful, but still not as painful as in my past births when I was close to giving birth, and they still lasted no more than forty-five seconds. I remembered reading that going on all fours and rocking back and forth can help alleviate back labor pains. I had never tried this technique before, perhaps because I felt inhibited to do so during previous births in a hospital setting. But in the privacy of my own bedroom, on my own bed, with no one watching, I had no such compunctions. I tried it and it worked. I felt some relief and swayed back and forth, right and left for a few minutes until my waters broke.

While on the phone with my midwife, updating her on the situation, I suddenly felt the urge to push. She encouraged me not to push and to come right away. While my husband packed the kids into the car, I went to the restroom to change. All of a sudden I felt extreme pressure. Reality hadn’t yet hit. I did not immediately think it could be the baby!

But after a few seconds I realized the inevitable was happening, the baby was coming and it was coming right now! Down on the floor I went, squatting on a towel I had conveniently dropped while showering. My husband called the midwife on the phone and patrolled the hall to ensure that the children wouldn’t make an appearance. I felt the urge to push twice, but unlike my previous births where the pushing stage took enormous efforts and strength out of me and were quite painful, here I felt no pain at all. The pushing process was gentle and smooth, and out came the baby, essentially birthing herself, welcomed with one of my hands while I supported myself with the other.

The first thing I noticed was that she did not cry, probably because the cord was draped around her neck. The midwife suggested I slap her on the back, so I did, and she immediately gave a nice cry. She was still a bit blue; but fortunately by then the ambulance arrived and administered some oxygen, and waited for me to deliver the afterbirth, after which we were bundled up and brought to the hospital.

Out came the baby, essentially birthing herselfLess than ten minutes elapsed from the time my water broke to when the baby was born, so there was no time to panic, no time to be afraid or think about anything other than what was happening in the moment. But a few hours later, as I was relaxing and reliving the experience, I could not help but be amazed at the power that G‑d has given us women.

Although this was not my first birth, I never felt as empowered as I did after this unexpected, unassisted birth experience. I thought of how thankful I am that the baby’s cord was only draped and not wrapped around her neck, and that thank G‑d she was okay (did the position I tried during labor help the cord unwrap itself from around her neck?)

But most powerful was the thought I had of our Jewish ancestresses. These brave women who lived in slavery in Egypt and defied Pharaoh’s edict for the Jewish midwives to kill Jewish male babies, by giving birth on their own, squatting in the fields. As I held my baby girl and relived my miracle, all I could think was that perhaps a little bit of their strength trickled down to me.

Chani Benjaminson is co-director of Chabad of the South Coast, coordinator of Chabad’s Ask the Rabbi and Feedback departments, and is a member of the editorial staff of
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
1000 characters remaining
Jewish Mother January 8, 2013

What a powerful story. G-D gave women a special power, let the medical community assist them in using this power and not negate it!
Tip: The best way to know how deep in labor you are is how focused you are on the birth process happening inside you (in authors words: how much patience you have for anything else). Birth, being a journey inwards, the further it progresses the less one can focus on outer distractions. Length and power of contractions can vary for each individual birth Reply

sinead Eclipse cheam, uk June 27, 2012

right hospitals get it right? To Anonymous Brooklyn, trained professionals get it wrong too. My last child was born in hospital, and I gave birth with no so called professional help, they all left saying I was not even dilated. So I feel baby coming and no help came, so I delivered him myself, I had no choice. Chani had no choice she did what she had to. This is an inspiring story. Reply

Chana Benjaminson NB, MA March 16, 2012

Thank you! Amen and thank you so much Ester for your kind words and wishes, may you and all women be blessed with beautiful births and healthy babies. Reply

ester brklyn, ny March 13, 2012

birthing with security what an inspiring story!! after having my 2nd accidentally at home (and by accident i mean the whole labor took half an hour) i refused to give birth to my 3rd in the hospital like i did w/ my first. i had the best support team. my midwife, doula, best friend who had a planned home birth and my amazing husband . i have to admit, the entire time i screamed to Hashem to help me bec im petrified!!! my amazing doula kept on reminding me that Hashem is w/ me in the room. what u wrote gave me something to focus on for my next home birth that will deff keep me calmer and have more security. i thank u soo much for sharing this amazing story! may Hashem bless u that u are able to share more inspiring stories !! Reply

Sarah Masha W Bloomfield, Mi/USA May 31, 2011

Karen Doula is a Greek word. It is a woman who helps women who are giving birth, and also assists the family after birth,. This person is not as medically trained as a lay midwife, or nurse, (let alone a CNM) but they stay from the start of labor until well after, not leaving because the shift ends or someone else needs them, as a doc would. They are there to support the mom, and don't have quite so much to do with the baby. Reply

Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell Riverside, Ca, USA October 18, 2010

I was told by my doctor when I was pregnant, That due dates are our adult, human guestimates. The fetus does not know how to read a calendar! Reply

ND MA October 17, 2010

Mazel Tov! What a beautiful story!

I also ended up with an unexpectedly unassisted birth - with unexpected twins, too! It's our job to do our best to provide a safe birth environment - and Hashem makes the final decision as to where and how the the birth will go. Reply

Ariella Levi Chicago, IL October 14, 2010

Amazing! Wow! What an awesome experience for you and your baby. Thats incredible... and also very hopeful. Thanks for sharing! Reply

Anonymous Florida, USA October 13, 2010

It was destiny(G-D) who was at work here. Why? We don't know, but one day mother and daughter will understand why the baby was supposed to get here in such a natural way. Bless the mother that knew what to do to have a save and healthy baby by herself. Reply

Elle richmond, va October 13, 2010

To Anonymous in Brooklyn-- Annon in Brooklyn--

clearly this post hits a sensitive spot for you! My sympathies.
Having been a homebirth doula for a good while now as well as working L&D on staff, well.. let me say it this way, the medical "safety nets" people assume are there to keep them safe... simply aren't what people assume them to be.

I don't want to take up too much room on this beautiful post on this tangent, but I strongly encourage you to look past your fears and assumptions and delve into some actual fact of what is what in the birth world. You may be surprised by what you find there. Like most things, what you see on the outside is a facade -- you need to look deeper to see the truth of the matter.

as for the mom here, clearly she places her trust in The Almighty, and not luck. She was told by her midwife to wait to go to the hospital (which is standard procedure). She did nothing unusual or risky -- babies come when they want to and they don't always give us proper warning! :) Reply

Lori Shiner October 13, 2010

To Anonymous in Brooklyn Perhaps you didn't read the title but the UNEXPECTED part was the main point. She did not plan on having a homebirth. And she certainly didn't plan on birthing solo. But that is what happened. And fortunately her body did exactly what it was supposed to do which was birth a healthy baby. She is not advocating that you give birth in your bathroom on your own. She is simply sharing the powerful experience she had from a situation she never planned on having. Reply

Anonymous Brooklyn, NY October 13, 2010

Ignorant and Ridiculous This is not a story of inspiration. It's a story of how a distracted woman put herself and her baby at risk. Yes, when people had no choice they had to birth alone in the field. But many of them died doing it. And some who survived lost their babies.

That's why we have modern medical practices. And I'm all for aiming for a natural birthing experience, but do it where there are trained professionals, and the necessary equipment, on call so if G-d forbid you need it, it's there for you.

Yes, you got lucky. But is that what we place our lives and that of our children in? Luck? Reply

Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell Riverside, CA, USA October 13, 2010

I'm sorry. What is a "doula"? This must be a Hebrew word? Reply

Elle richmond, va October 12, 2010

unassisted birthing congratulations!

a a doula myself for a few years, when I found myself pregnant for the 3rd time, some how I decided to make the less popular choice of having an unassisted birth... (I will spare everyone here the lecture on how much healthier it is for both mom and baby to be born at home! either with or without midwife assistance! :) I know it's controversial issue heh)

The difference in hospital birthing and birthing at home was such a wonderful experience and I would do it again in a moment. This birth was so much easier on my son than the birth of his siblings in the hospital.

Congratulations on both your new little ones, and on experiencing something wonderful that sadly most women in this day and age don't have the pleasure of experiencing! :) Reply

Chana Batya corvallis, or October 12, 2010

Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is truly wonderful to have such an experience as you had. Amazing that you kept your cool, l as I can imagine the surprise that you felt when all of a sudden, here comes the baby. Reply

Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell Riverside, CA, USA October 11, 2010

I REMEMBER the story of the lady you mentioned. It was on the NEWS and on a video at Yahoo. Incredible. What you went through was AWESOME. How is the baby now? How old is he or she? You were SO SMART to try all those "exercises". I feel as though I really love you like a sister, Chanalah. Mazeltov!!!! My story with my youngest son was a little similar, except the midwife got to my apartment barely on time. I remember having had a rush of energy to clean the house, and then sitting down on a recliner and then feeling contractions that didn't actually hurt as much as my first baby. My son was born ONE HALF hour after the first contraction, in my apartment. Oddly, the midwife said, "Hop up on the table", and of course I couldn't do that. The baby was already coming. While the baby was sliding out, they all lifted me onto the table. My first son (3 years old) watched the whole process, and was angry that we "made" his baby brother cry. So cute! They let him wash the white stuff off the baby and he was the first to hold him. Reply

Joy Krauthammer Northridge, CA October 11, 2010

Home birth, Bless G-d Chani,

I have tears of joy reading your birthing story.
MAZAL TOV. You are an inspiration.

Before I reached your last paragraph, I wondered to myself, "How did we do it in biblical days?"

My mother started birthing me in a taxi in the Bronx.

For my daughter's birth 33 years ago, and her birthday is TODAY, the nurse during an unexpected "non stress test" announced to me, "Today is your daughter's birthday". Minutes later following an emergency C-section, there she was. A blessing.

No doula needed.

Enjoy all your babies

BlesSings, Reply

Related Topics