Laura and her husband delivered their first child without the aid of a doctor or midwife. Laura alone delivered the next three children, assisted by her belief that giving birth was a natural process for which a woman's body had been well designed. Therefore, she saw no need to involve the medical establishment. Her personal birth experiences confirmed her belief, and subsequent research has convinced her that with the proper mindset delivering one's own baby is the safest, most fulfilling way to give birth. Tribal women and animals can help show the way, if one is humble enough to learn from them. Shanley gives numerous references, both historical and contemporary, to support her theory. She tells of her own experiences in childbirth as well as those of other women who have given birth without medical assistance. Although many contemporary writers deal with the concept that we create our own reality according to our beliefs, no one has applied this notion to birthing experience to the extent that Laura has.
For many generations, society has assumed that childbirth, with its associated fear, pain, and risks, must take place in a hospital setting in the presence of medical professionals who have no relationship to the parents and their baby. Laura Kaplan Shanley rebuffs the context of this assumption, which treats childbirth as a disease rather than as a natural process. In Unassisted Childbirth, she calls upon the thousands of years during which women gave birth without medical intervention--arguing that with the proper beliefs, women are capable of and can opt for delivering their own babies, with or without their partners. Shanley, who had her own four children at home without medical assistance, explains how women's apprehensions contribute to most difficulties encountered in labor. In addition, she points out, only after the practice of placing women in infectious hospital settings began did the risk of hemorrhaging, sickening or even dying in childbirth increase.