Women have given birth in their homes, attended by other women, from the beginning of humankind. Following the rhythm of your labor with support from friends and loved ones, feeling your uterus contract stronger and stronger, trusting your innate wisdom and ability to see this through, giving birth in the position your body seeks for best effort, experiencing the intensity of pushing your baby out into the light, hugging your newborn to you in awe to smell and admire and suckle.
This is the picture of normal healthy human birth, designed to complete the transformation of woman to mother, fetus to newborn, bonding them together for life. Unfortunately it is not how most mothers and babies experience birth in this country. Today in the U.S. only 1 – 2% of births take place in a home setting. Birth shifted to hospital settings in the 19th century, attended by primarily male physicians. But the increased use of medical technology applied to pregnancy, labor and birth, while intended to improve the health of mothers and babies, has failed to produce improved outcomes. The U.S. continues to rank behind most of the developed world in terms of infant and maternal mortality rates. The escalating use of epidurals, vacuum extraction, inductions, intravenous pain medication, antibiotic prophylaxis, and surgical birth has in fact resulted in a cesarean section rate of over 30% nationally along with increased incidences of infection, prematurity and unsatisfactory, sometimes traumatic, experiences for mothers, babies and families.