History of Home Births and Unassisted Births

American society has a tendency to lack self-confidence. It is believed they must go to the doctor for every little thing, instead of waiting things out or doing things the way they used to be done. Home remedies are considered to be old wives’ tales, simply because a doctor doesn’t believe them.

Having access to medical care and advanced technology tends to give a sense of false security in the medical establishment. It’s believed it must know more than we do, and its ways must be the safest ways to do things, or professionals wouldn’t be doing them. Those who choose other paths are considered to be irresponsible, because they aren’t trained professionals. People walk away without doing their own research. This mentality is used whether a family chooses to not vaccinate or to use herbs and supplements to treat ailments instead of antibiotics. Home birthing and unassisted birthing also get a nod of disapproval because they are “risking their own lives and the lives of the baby’s.”

If people took the time to stop and think about life prior to the birth of modern medicine, they would realize that these things, especially birthing at home, have been going on since the beginning of time. The first baby ever born was born at home, without a doctor or a midwife. It is a natural event that should not need a medical team watching and barking commands to the mother to get the job done. There are times where it’s helpful to be in a hospital, when there are complications that arise. However, being in a hospital under normal circumstances can actually create more problems.

Most women choose to birth at home to avoid unnecessary testing that can cause harm to the baby, such as continuous fetal monitoring and repeated ultrasounds. They also choose to be at home so their bodies can work on their own time schedule, not a doctor’s. The year 1957 brought us two inventions that makes people think it’s essential to birth in a hospital: Ultrasound  and fetal monitors. Babies have been being born for a very long time before these two devices, with few problems.

New York City began licensing midwives in 1712. Prior to that, midwives were just experienced birthers who helped other women. Those who lived in extremely rural areas, or didn’t really know their neighbors, birthed on their own without help. While maternal or infant death wasn’t recorded at that time, it’s believed by historians that births were still successful as much as 95% of the time. From 1760-1850, doctors weren’t even trained to deliver babies, which put them below practicing midwives.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “The U.S. infant mortality rate is higher than those in most other developed countries, and the gap between the U.S. infant mortality rate and the rates for the countries with the lowest infant mortality appears to be widening.” This means that the US, the country with the highest level of medical intervention for women giving birth, has the highest ratio of deaths to population ratio. Obviously, the newer practice of modern medicine isn’t the safest. Countries such as the Netherlands and Japan birth naturally most of the time, with a lower mortality rate than in the United States hospital births.

Research indicates that the old way of birthing at home is not less safe than birthing in hospitals. It would be expected that, if the newer, more modern technology of hospitals were safer, our mortality rates would be dropping considerably since the formation of hospitals. This simply isn’t the case.