Thursday, March 5, 2015
The fire never went out; tending the coals of natural, home births.
I am listening to a midwife share her perspective.
She wants everyone to understand that there were always people doing home births and that it never went away. Family practice doctors and chiropractors continued to attend women at home and worked closely with midwives during the 1940's and 1950's and 1960's when most births began to take place in hospitals.
It is like a campfire, early in the morning. There are still glowing embers and coals. It only needs someone to blow on it and add some more fuel and it will burn again.
Doctors and midwives, seemingly, working together, delivered babies at home, in Oregon, long before the re- emergence of midwives in the 1970's. When women looked for an alternative to a "drug em and drag em out birth" they found the remaining home birth doctors and midwives. They found old text books, doctors and midwives trained in other countries and began to work together to learn how to deliver babies without intervention and with the people they needed by their side.
It must have been amazing for the old family docs, to watch all these people breathe new life into home birth. Amazing but also, in all the fuss, they were soon forgotten.
The doctors and midwives, who had been working together for so many years, separated and there were nurse midwives and doctors and lay midwives. There were families having their babies on their own, after reading a book. And then there were hospitals, that giving into consumer pressure, decorated birth rooms to look like a home and allowed natural childbirth.
When I announced to my parents, that I was having my baby at home, they protested. Then, my grandmother looked sternly at them and said, "And where do you think you two were born?" It was that close. My parents born at home and then my children born at home.
When the women in the 1970's decided to become midwives, they found people who had tended the fire in the cold, lean years of home birth. It was sometimes hard but they were there all along.
This is what this wise midwife of the 1970's wants everyone to know. The fire never went out.