One of the most worry-some topics to date is which birthing method to use. Or more like which birthing method is going to be used if your first choice isn’t under ideal circumstances. Some women plan their whole lives for this moment, what it will be like, and preparing the birth plan for D-day.
Not in the too far distant past, birthing wasn’t so “pleasant” as it seems to be in 2015. Women didn’t work away from the home and so it was her sole job to keep a house, raise children, and make sure her husband was happy while he was out making a living to support everyone. Not so much anymore. Those days are a fantasy of the past for most women and we tend to do it all when it comes to keeping a home, job, family, and everything else in order.
Some of us may have some help, but a lot do not have extended family to lend a helping hand when needed. Along with the family unit evolving over the years, the birthing process has evolved exceptionally. Gone are the days when the man isn’t allowed in the birthing room or operating room, or the woman is isolated from everyone she knows to go off down the white corridors to have her baby.
Having babies wasn't always so pleasant. It was scary, daunting, and no one really knew what to expect. Doctors were all male, only practiced what they “thought” was the way to do things, and so the woman’s wishes and feelings were never really considered. Thank goodness for women doctors, midwives, and doulas. Without them, who knows where we would be during childbirth when it comes to techniques, procedures, and methods.
Thanks to modern day technology, birthing methods have significantly changed and have improved, so here are 8 birthing methods you’ll be glad we don’t use anymore:
8 Ancient Egypt Births
Be glad you aren’t having a child in Ancient Egypt. From pregnancy, delivery, and birth control, Egyptians relied heavily on rituals, potions, and cultural traditions that certainly would not fly in 2015. It begins with the induction of labor by putting certain remedies inside the vagina or rubbed on the abdomen of the expectant mother.
Sometimes they would give the woman beer laced with powdered saffron and rub it all over her belly, they believed that it induced labor. Whatever works, I’d say, but that’s going a little far for me, I’d rather stick to walking and climbing the hospital stairwells. In that day, there were no physicians used specifically for childbirth, but there was help from local villagers.
Women would deliver their baby in the squatting position onto a birthing brick or straight onto the ground. So much for trying to prevent infection, and no surprise the amount of deaths in mothers and children due to contamination. Other ritual things the Egyptians would do were eating a mouse to prevent getting sick or rub menstrual blood on the baby to fight off demons. YIKES!
7 Ancient Europe
In Ancient Europe you sure couldn’t have stage fright since giving birth in front of an audience was commonplace, especially during the introduction of a new monarchs. You mean having a room full of medical staff just isn’t enough?
The birthing process would take place in front of a court of up to 70 people to prove to everyone present that no imposter was going to take over the future monarchs.
So apparently, 8 isn’t enough in this situation. Thanks, but I’ll pass on everyone having a front row seat to my lady parts and avoid the possibility of the whole world possibly seeing me soil myself.
In England’s 1950’s, an enema was commonly issued during the early stages of labor and all the mother’s neither regions were shaved and eliminated of all of her pubic hair. Say what? The theory was that cleaning out the colon prior to birth will make more room for the baby.
Not an era for birthing
I guess I can see why that may be true since plenty of women accidentally soil themselves, and going #2 in a bucket before birth (on purpose) may be less embarrassing, it’s not completely necessary. Plenty of women shave in this day and age, and it’s not really clear the purpose of eliminating all of the pubic hair. Irregardless, I’m thankful that’s not something that takes place anymore.
5 Birthing Chair
The birthing chair was used in ancient history, and as far as I’m concerned, it can stay there. In come cultures, it still may be in use, but not in developed countries where hospitals are readily available with delivery personnel.
The birthing chair had a U-shaped hole in the bottom of the seat (similar to a potty chair) and was accompanied with metal stirrups and a short standing stool. I’m sure the birthing chair may help relax the lower part of the body and assist with making room for the delivery, but from the looks of it, it was certainly not designed with comfort in mind.
A chair you're glad you don't have in your house
Additionally, the birthing chair has an unfortunate similar look to what is used today as an electric chair for executions.
4 Au Naturel
Lack of pain medication was common in most or all cultures for the whole world for what I’m sure seemed like forever. I’m sure in our mother’s day there wasn’t much of an option other than to suck it up and deal with the pain.
Some places in early America were given whiskey. Nothing like getting drunk during childbirth after being sober for 9 months and then passing the toxins onto the baby. The Puritan communities saw pain as a punishment from God for Eve and every woman to follow her thereafter.
The Puritans weren't too much better than the Europeans
Along with no anesthetics, there was a huge problem with lack of hygiene and germs were spread from patient to patient, causing deaths among mothers and babies alike. Eventually, this was resolved, but it was not uncommon to have high death rates due to this practice.
3 Birthing 's Style
In the 1930’s, when a mother was in labor, she was treated like an object rather than a beautiful woman. Her wishes certainly were not of concern when her legs were tied to the stirrups with leather straps (as to not leave marks and make her husband worry later on), her entire body was masked off with white heavy sheets, and she was gassed into a ‘twilight sleep’.
This was done so she would not remember anything during the birthing process. They would also use lambskin hand/arm restraints on women to keep them from flailing all over the place in fighting the painful process of childbirth.
Not the hospital birth you want to experience
Women were just barely able to vote, and the changes needed to make birthing safer were still being developed. Those poor women!
2 Twilight Sleep
Don't let the name of this one fool you! There's nothing pleasant about this birthing method. Twilight sleep was a state that the birthing mother was put into to knock her out cold and hard.
The cocktail of choice was a combination of Morphine and Scopolamine. These drugs didn’t suppress the pain, but rather made the woman have extreme memory loss and literally go crazy. These drugs would send the expecting mother into a psychotic rage, and since men weren’t allowed in the delivery room, they never knew what went on behind closed doors.
It was a dangerous cocktail to give a pregnant woman
The cocktail didn’t just send women into a frenzy, but would have serious effects on the baby. The drug can cause respiratory distress and even kill the baby before they are born.
1 Routine Episiotomy
Routine Episiotomy used to be the go to procedure during childbirth. Say what? Instead of talking it over with the patient, doctors would just whip out a scalpel or blunted knife of sorts and start slicing like your perineum is a piece of deer meat. The theory was that it was better than tearing (not everyone tears) and it was much easier to stitch up a straight line rather than a jagged rip.
Well, slicing open that sensitive area unnecessarily can cause multiple other issues after childbirth, like incontinence, uncontrollable flatulence, urine leakage, and pelvic floor damage. Why doctors back in the day didn’t ever consider this when busting out the hardware is beyond me, but it’s clear they didn’t care about the reproductive organs of the female body and some actually enjoyed ‘ruining’ a woman’s lady parts.
Disgusting, and thank goodness times have changed and women have a choice of whether or not to have this procedure done or not. Talking it over with your doctor is your best bet to avoid spontaneous procedures and possible permanent damage.
This procedure is only performed in emergency situations
Cultures across the world have evolved into making childbirth more comfortable and have brought the point of view of the women into the birthing process. Where would we be without this? Would women be willing to have several children without pain medicine? Would scores of women still be getting ruined due to botched procedures, old theories, or lack of consideration by their doctor?
Thankfully, the introduction of the midwife has significantly changed the birthing process and made it a much more enjoyable experience overall. More women are choosing to stay at home for the birth of their babies, rather than go to a traditional hospital, and understandably so. A midwife can perform all the same procedures necessary for a safe birth, conduct emergency procedures, and handle things in a quiet and swift manner if an emergency arises.
Do your research, ask friends, family, and anyone else in your life what their experience was, how it was handled, and for any recommendations to make the birthing process much easier for you. Ask about pain management procedures, check the history of your doctor and his practice. If your friend doesn’t recommend them, don’t use them.
You can even inform your doctor of your birth plan so they know what you want and don't want
Check for any violations since they’ve been in practice, and of course, make sure they have a compassionate bedside manner. If your doctor is out of town when you are due to give birth, have a back up doctor who is willing to step up into their place, someone that you are comfortable with. If not, then the on duty staff will be deciding who delivers your baby, and you want that person to be someone you trust.
You can plan the birth of your child to the most ideal of ways, but in reality, anything can happen. Be prepared to alter your wishes at the drop of a hat if necessary. Overall this is the best moment of your life, so enjoy it the best you can. Try not to get overwhelmed with everything and call someone to help you calm down if you need them.
Include your spouse or significant other in your decision making, make them feel involved, wanted, and part of the process. After-all, if it wasn’t for them this wouldn’t be happening. Remember to relax, remember your birthing classes techniques, and enjoy your new baby!