Home births were not a big deal back in the day. My grandfather was born at home. Legend was that his (44! year old) mother wasn’t feeling well, went and lay down and had the baby. It’s the type of birth us Natural Mothering folks dream about. Unmedicated, unrushed, independent. No doctor was going to tie down her arms during labor (that happened to a friend) and force pitocin on her. No way, things went 100% naturally and the baby was perfect. We still have that bed.
My dad’s mom had at least one unassisted home birth that I knew of, and probably had three out of four at home. My dad’s cousin walked through during her labor and asked if he could name the baby. She said yes, and “Tex Alan” it was. Her labor was not as easy as my great grandma’s, but my dad slipped out – no Hep B shot, no vitamin K.
Home births are not for everyone. My dear friend, C, had two transverse babies and would not have been able to even have the babies without medical intervention.Two friends had emergency c-sections. If these had been necessary eighty years ago, it’s possibly no one would have lived. I didn’t have one, although I would probably go for it, assisted by a midwife if I ever had the chance again. I wonder if I could have relaxed enough to even delivered a child at home. (I’ve been told with a home birth I would have been able to stay comfortable and deliver unmedicated – this is something I will never know and will carry no guilt upon.)
It’s kind of funny that there was a prestige in going to the hospital, just like there is often awe and respect given to the home birthing mothers. What was “normal” then is a spectacle now. If I had my choice I would do it all differently, and that makes me a little bit sad. Ultimately, though, I had a safe birth and have a lovely little daughter. If I had another baby, I’d ask for some other kind of experience, but the truth is I could not ask for more.