For most modern moms, giving birth is still one of the most intimidating things about parenthood. But add those nerves and the 'unknown' factor to a remote setting in the woods without running water, and things are even more intense.
But for moms who choose to live off the grid, that's exactly how they want it. People who ditch the city life are often in search of something simpler and more rugged, and giving birth without modern amenities definitely fits the lifestyle!
Of course, not every mom who winds up having a baby in the wilderness planned it that way. But whatever she intended, many mamas have to adapt to their environments when preparing to welcome their babies.
And things can and do go wrong no matter where moms have their little ones. But the truth is that being so far from suburbia isn't necessarily a good thing when it comes to getting professional help or finding what moms need to care for their babies.
After all, in most cases, there's no delivery service to rural cabins or lactation help at the local outpost.
Here's a glimpse into the wild ways of off-grid moms with 20 ways their childbirth experiences might be different from that of "urban" moms.
20 There’s No Way Of Knowing What’s Coming
For the mamas who fall pregnant after moving off-grid, odds are the care she's getting is pretty rudimentary. For one thing, there just aren't a whole lot of ultrasound machines sprouting out of trees, and she'll be hard-pressed to find a clinic where she can get prenatal vitamins in the middle of the woods.
And no ultrasound means very little practical idea of what to expect! Sure, moms can wind up with twins (or higher order multiples), but they also don't know whether they're expecting a boy or girl. They also don't know if there's something wrong with the baby health-wise.
19 Midwives Aren’t Exactly On Call
If you've ever had to waddle down a long hallway or up a flight of stairs while pregnant, feel free to take a seat. Moms who are pregnant off the grid may have to trek miles to receive prenatal care, even if there is a midwife who services their local area. Imagine literally hiking through the woods to meet with your midwife!
And speaking of midwives, that's going to be most mamas' only option when it comes to the delivery. There are no hospitals to speak of when you're off-grid and living your best natural life, which means no full-service hospital birth!
18 Other Help Is Hard To Come By
Although plenty of modern moms dislike being interrupted while trying to bond with their new babies, there are benefits to birthing in a hospital or birth center. Moms with fewer amenities in their birth suites (like running water, in some cases!), however, may lament the lack of assistance during and directly after childbirth.
When you're living off-grid and have a birth at home, there are no lactation support staff making the rounds, or nurses just outside the door who will respond with the press of a button. It's unlikely you'll have any help, really, unless it's your partner or other children who can bring you things or help get you comfy.
17 Dad Is The Main Birth Support
There's nothing wrong with home births, of course, but for moms off-grid, it could be that their only labor and delivery team is their partner! Lots of moms plan unassisted births, which mean there is no medically-trained staff present. And when you're in a remote location awaiting the arrival of your baby, unassisted might just be the only way you can birth!
But that also means dad will probably be worried about mom! He'll be responsible for the other kids, if they already have some, and he'll also be in charge of cleaning up, prepping meals, and trying to do whatever he can to make his partner feel empowered and safe.
16 Instincts Rank Above All Else
For a lot of first-time moms, it's common to have the nurses or midwives walk her through everything. After all, if it's your first time having a baby, it doesn't matter how many books you've read on the subject — you won't really know how it works or feels until you experience it!
But that doesn't mean instincts aren't at play. In fact, they're the only thing moms can rely on when they're in the middle of the wilderness with only their hubby by their side. And although hospitals and birth centers are an option for a reason, there's no denying that a mom's instincts play a part in getting her baby here safely.
15 There’s No Epidural Available
Some mamas swear by an epidural during childbirth. For lots of us, it can help us manage contractions better, relax in between surges, and even take a nap if that's what we need. But in an off-the-grid birth? That's not part of the package!
Instead, mamas who birth off-grid have to rely on other techniques like breathing, hypnobirthing, or any manner of other tactics to get them to focus on the process rather than the pain. Of course, meditation and other mindful practices can help, but let's be honest, there's nothing like an epidural to really take the edge off.
14 Sanitizing Stuff Is A Challenge
In hospitals and birth centers, everything in the birth kit is either single-use or able to be sanitized. At home, though? We're pretty sure that even though the kids might try to eat off the kitchen floor, it's probably not that clean, which is bad news for a mama who winds up laboring in her off-grid bathroom! It's tough to sanitize your birth equipment, even if you're super prepared beforehand! You'll need to boil any tools (like scissors for cutting the umbilical cord!), make sure you have clean, dry towels on hand, and have something to tie the umbilical cord with (and that should be sanitary, too). Not impossible, no — but challenging in an off-grid home!
13 Clean Up Is Even More Crucial
One of the things that off-grid families often deal with more than us suburbanites is wild animals. Whether it's raccoons getting into the garbage or bears scavenging for leftovers, people who live off-grid are often in areas where animals are the majority. And because birth can be a bit messy, cleaning up afterward is even more important.
Animals are often attracted to food smells, and to some animals, childbirth remnants and fluids can smell like a meal. It's super gross, yes, but it's a reality that families have to live with when they're neighbors with families of furry (and hungry) critters.
12 Relying On Herbs And More
In lots of hospitals, birth centers, or even homebirth scenarios, moms can trust that their care teams have a pocket full of remedies for emergency situations. Whether a mom is in need of oxygen or some other intervention, it's nice to know that the midwife, nurse, or doctor can either order a script ASAP from the pharmacy downstairs or pull a bottle out of a bag.
Off-grid? There are no one-stop pharmacies down the hall from your birthing room, and there's no one to call in an emergency. So it falls on mom to prepare for any herbal or other remedies so she's ready if something goes wrong.
11 Temperature Control Is A Real Concern
When you think of off-grid living, you might be picturing families running barefoot in fields of tall grasses. But for many families, they're living in the middle of Alaska or another wilderness area that is home to cold weather and tons of snow. In these cases, moms have to be even more careful when it comes time to give birth.
Babies need warmth, after all, so maintaining the home or birthing area temperature is crucial. But it's not as easy as flipping on the thermostat when you live off-grid. Mom (or hopefully dad or someone else!) will need to grab firewood to keep her living quarters comfy for the baby.
10 Help Is Hard To Find
For moms who birth off-grid, it's nice to have a plan in place in case there's an emergency. But for some families, it's just too much risk to take the wait-and-see approach. Depending on how they feel about home birth and unassisted birth in general, off-grid mamas might choose to temporarily move their families closer to medical facilities.
It's a smart idea, yes, but it can also be challenging to find somewhere to stay while you wait for the baby to be born. And there's always the chance the kiddo will come while you're in transit! Either way, traveling with a newborn isn't ideal, but to get help, some mamas will have to do it.
9 There’s No Prime For Baby Prep
One of the beautiful things about birthing today is moms can get literally everything they need to welcome a baby delivered to their doorstep. From the nursery furniture and decor to feeding products and baby clothes, retailers like Amazon deliver items within a day or two, and pregnant mamas never even have to leave the house.
But you know where we're going with this: off-grid mamas don't have the luxury of running to the local market, let alone shopping online for quick delivery of baby essentials. Instead, they have to start early and collect everything they'll need, which will often include hand-me-downs and refurbished goods.
8 No One Is In A Rush
One of the great things about off-grid or home births, in general, is everything can happen according to the mom and baby's schedule. When you're at home having your baby, no one will be rushing you along or suggesting interventions. And yes, interventions have their place, but with a normal healthy birth, plenty of moms enjoy staying home and relaxing while their bodies do what needs to be done.
And it's even more understandable that an off-grid mom will be even more relaxed about welcoming her baby. She might be doing some homestead chores while in early labor, or decide to birth outside on a whim — and it doesn't matter because there are no neighbors for miles!
7 Loading Up On Candles And Batteries
Some families set up luxury off-grid homes with full amenities. Others tend to live simply and rely on more rustic setups. That could mean a composting toilet or an outhouse, rudimentary lighting systems with a single lightbulb or merely candlelight, an open-sided living structure or a full-scale cabin. Whatever moms' living conditions are, they need to stock up on whatever powers their home to ensure comfort and safety during a birth.
Off-grid moms will likely want a supply of batteries and candles so they're prepared for power outages (or just the normal lack of power!), fresh water for drinking and bathing the baby or cleaning equipment, and other basics that urban moms never even think twice about.
6 Mom Might Get Her Own Birthing Suite
Lots of families go off-grid because they desire a simpler existence. For a lot of them, that might mean downsizing to an extreme. Whether it's a tiny house or a 200-square-foot cabin, lots of off-gridders tend to utilize a smaller amount of space — even if they have (growing) families.
So for a mom who needs space to labor, things could get a little cramped indoors. Moms might want to birth outside, or maybe her partner will even build her a special birth suite like the one pictured here. In some communities, "birth shacks" are really a thing — and while they don't exactly look like the Hilton, it's better than birthing in an open field, right?
5 Older Kids Are More Involved
A lot of off-grid families live as hunter-gatherers, while others start homesteading as a way of life. And for those who decide to raise cattle or other animals, grow their own crops, and do other chores like churning their own butter, the whole family will need to pitch in.
So if the family includes older kids along with the laboring mama, they'll probably be more involved in the birth — just like they're more involved in regular life at home. Kids can tackle lots of chores, but they may also be expected to support their mama while she's laboring, and they'll likely be there to see their little sibling born!
4 Getting A Birth Certificate Is Nearly Impossible
With my second child, the hospital he was born at had me sign one form, and then I picked up a birth certificate at my convenience a few weeks later. But off-grid moms don't have it quite that easy. Although many off-grid families intentionally don't register their children's births, those who do may struggle to get their applications approved.
Plenty of county registrars want proof of the baby's birth, whether via a signed affidavit from a witness or the actual birth video! Some places accept just seeing the infant themselves, but that's still a long trek to town for some off-grid moms. And those without a "real" address? It's even harder, if not impossible, to register your kiddo.
3 Settling Down Can Be A Challenge
Although many people think of off-grid living as being in a small cabin or a tiny home, a lot of families go mobile instead. From actual recreational vehicles to custom-fitted vans or campers, many families add wheels to their rural homes. And when a woman is pregnant or a couple's children are young, it totally makes sense to live small and mobile.
For childbirth though? You might need to park that bus or van for a while! And it can be a challenge to find somewhere to settle down if you haven't before the labor starts. Plus, living in a van, you'll still need to maintain a water source, obtain heat and electricity, and make sure mom is safe.
2 Mom Still Has To Take Care Of Business Mid-Labor
When a mom lives off-grid and has a lot of chores to tend to, it's not always feasible to skip them until after the baby comes. It could be collecting eggs from the chickens or milking the cow(s), but whatever mom's regular duties at home, she—or someone else—will still need to take care of business.
That can make the actual labor feel a bit stressful, especially if there's a lot to do to maintain the family homestead or it's a season where crops need special attention or harvesting. There are many factors that influence what a mom's daily duties are, but there's really no pausing those!
1 Moms May Not Have Time For Recovery
Just as a mom's off-grid responsibilities don't subside just because she's in labor, the same applies to her postpartum time. Doctor's orders might be to rest for six weeks, but a mom who's off-grid and homesteading has a lot to get done! Besides, if she wants to eat or have water to drink or have heat for the home, she probably can't skip a whole lot of chores.
Thankfully, most moms don't move off-grid on their own, so it's likely she'll have some help from her partner or extended family. After all, even off-grid moms and their rugged lifestyles benefit from a bit of R&R right after having a baby!