State Laws for Unassisted Home Birth

by Jacqulyn (Rhode Island)

I’m looking for information on the laws for unassisted home birth (I am planning to do so) in the state of Rhode Island (I know it is not legal to get a midwife).

Also having a hard time getting the hard facts on reporting the birth, getting the birth certificate, first doctor visit, and so on. Anything you can tell me would be great. My due date is January 27th.

Answer:

Hi Jacqulyn,

Unassisted home birth is not illegal in any state – and there are no laws protecting your right to have an unassisted birth, either. It’s sort of in a “gray area” of the law.

There’s a good thread on Mothering.com about getting birth certificates after unassisted birth. I searched the thread and didn’t find anything on Rhode Island in there, however, you can get a good general idea of what other states want.

How to Get the Birth Certificate?

You might try calling Vital Records to ask how to file for a baby born at home.

Laura Shanley recommends on her (excellent) site on unassisted birthing that you don’t go get the birth certificate until you have a plump, healthy 1 month old or so. Many states will want to see the baby (My state, Michigan, wanted to see our baby), and a plump, healthy 1 month old won’t get looked at with the same alarm a newborn might.

For doctor – have you picked a doctor for your baby yet? If you have I would just call them in and ask when they’d like to see a baby born at home. Or just call when it’s time for the appointment. I have always taken my baby in for a doctor’s visit around 8 days old and it’s always been a really low-stress “just look them over” kind of thing. You don’t have to take your newborn in so soon, though. It’s up to what you feel comfortable with.

Of course no matter when you take the baby in there will be questions about the birth, what hospital baby was born in, etc. These are things you’ll probably have to keep dealing with, though, because people will always assume your baby was born at a hospital.

The best thing is to have a healthy, happy baby. And sadly, it’s probably best to keep quiet about your intentions to UC before the fact.

You can explore Laura’s site more if you haven’t already – I spent hours reading the birth stories on her site before Galen’s birth :)