homebirth discussion w/grandma

18 posts / 0 new
Last post
kvo
kvo's picture
Joined: 12/18/06
Posts: 902
homebirth discussion w/grandma

I recently took Liam to Maryland to meet my 88 year old grandma. I knew my mother was born at her grandma's house, but I didn't know any of the details, so I asked granma about it. She gave birth to my mom when she was 19 years old and she went into labor while at her MIL's house. My great-grandma did most of the coaching, but she also had a midwife. Apparently, that was the norm in the 40s. They didn't live out in the country either, this was in Baltimore. It was very costly to have a hospital birth in those days and health insurance didn't really exist yet so only the wealthy went to the hospital for birthing. She said the family doctor did come by later to see the baby, but he didn't "do" anything or take part in the birthing process at all.

Grandma's second birth was 3 or 4 years later (after my grandfather had come back from WWII). She gave birth in their apartment with a midwife again. My mom was there the whole time but they kept her out of the bedroom during the actual birth. It was a breech delivery done safely at home.

Her third child was born in the mid 50s in a hospital b/c she went into labor at 28 weeks, so he had to be kept in an incubator. It was a vaginal birth, but she was given an epidural. Her fourth child was born in 1962...twenty years after my mom was born and was also born in the hospital w/epi.

Interesting that things seemed to really shift between 1940 and 1960.

ange84's picture
Joined: 12/28/09
Posts: 6564

Ny Nanna had at least two home births. My Dad was born at hospital in 1960 in England. Two years later my Nanna had her second son and it was a home birth, and two years after that she had her third son which was also a home birth. I am not aure if her two daughters were home births or not as she was in Australia by that stage. My Nanna was saying that in the 60's in England a mother would have her first at the hospital and then barring no complications etc, any subsequent babies were encouraged to be born at home as they didn't see the need for a hospital birth at that point.
My Nanna also had her second child who kept flipping until the very last moment when he ended up head down, so she understood my feelings about a breech baby. Back then they didn't see breech as a pregnancy complication and she still had her home birth. Now they even wrote breech presentation under the pregnancy complications section in all my documentation (and a c-section because my local hospital won't deliver breech any other way and we couldn't get to the hospital that would even attempt it, though they also encourage a c-section)

jolly11sd's picture
Joined: 02/02/05
Posts: 3327

That is totally interesting to hear the stories of your grandmothers and how such big shifts in birthing took place in only a short span of time. To think now that HB isn't even the norm when not that long ago it was.

ange84's picture
Joined: 12/28/09
Posts: 6564

I like the fact it was recognised that for a normal pregnancy home wasn't such a bad place to give birth. I now want to follow upwith my my Nanna about what she did for her youngest two who were both born here in Australia, the first in 1967, seeing as she had already had two successful homebirths in England. At least I know if I ever decide to go the homebirth option I will have support from at least one person, but I need to get the first VBAC out of the way before then.

gardenbug's picture
Joined: 03/12/07
Posts: 2025

I am the youngest of three.
My mother married a Frenchman in France and my brother was born there, in a hospital with midwives. (1939)
Because Dad was in the French army for the War, Mom returned to be with her parents in New Jersey. That is where my sister was born, with doctors in the hospital.(1941)
Dad came to the USA as soon as the War ended (via a circuitous route) and I was born in New York State, also in a hospital with doctors. (1942)
For both births in the US, Mom was given gas and had no recollection of our births. She spoke with delight about my brother's birth though.
They called it "progress" to use gas, even though there were no complications of any kind.

Kristen, we had a family friend in the 1950s whose son was placed in an incubator. Those were the days when babies were often blinded as a result of this, and their little David was blinded for life. He was a great kid with super parents, but the sadness of it all!

I'm so glad you were able to chat about these events with grandma! I bet it made her...year! Smile

momW's picture
Joined: 09/29/09
Posts: 5634

That is really cool to hear about. I wish I had thought to talk to my g-ma about her 3 kids' births before she passed away.

My mom and I have talked about her 3 births (1 was stillborn at 26(ish) weeks). She has made comments about why all the inductions lately. She said with me she didn't even have a due "date". She was just told she'd have me sometime in February or March and there was no talk whatsoever about inducing cause there really was no "late". With the baby that passed away in utero she was induced so the technology existed to do it. But then with my brother it was the same as with me, she was given a time frame to expect the baby, but not a date. This was just as recently as the late 70's/early 80's. Now, you cannot get through a pregnancy without at some point someone mentioning induction, whether it's your OB or mw or someone you know asking when the dr is going to "take you."

Had I not had 2 c/s's already I think my mom wouldn't flinch about me wanting a HB.

Gardenbug- I've read about "twilight birth" and it sounds absolutely horrible!! Sometimes women were given gas and tied to a bed to labor for however long it took (sometimes days). They could still feel the pain, but had no later memory of it. No one stayed in there with them, they were just left alone to do their thing while drugged up and sometimes tied down. ack!!!

LMCH's picture
Joined: 02/05/07
Posts: 2031

That is interesting, Kristen. I know both my grandmas had all 3 of each of their kids in the hospital, but the oldest ones were both 1950 births.

My one grandma was a L&D nurse in the 70s and 80s, and unfortunatley did not seem too pleased when I was telling about my decision to go with a MW at a birth center this time. It came up when we were all out to dinner (me, DH, my parents, and my grandparents), and when she asked if it was in a group with an OB and would be at the hospital...and I told her no...she said "oh see, that's where I don't agree" and started going on and on about complications, etc. etc. There is no changing her mind with research, info, etc...between her personality and her background as a L&D nurse...I just dropped it and don't bring it up around her.

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

"momW" wrote:

My mom and I have talked about her 3 births (1 was stillborn at 26(ish) weeks). She has made comments about why all the inductions lately. She said with me she didn't even have a due "date". She was just told she'd have me sometime in February or March and there was no talk whatsoever about inducing cause there really was no "late". With the baby that passed away in utero she was induced so the technology existed to do it. But then with my brother it was the same as with me, she was given a time frame to expect the baby, but not a date. This was just as recently as the late 70's/early 80's. Now, you cannot get through a pregnancy without at some point someone mentioning induction, whether it's your OB or mw or someone you know asking when the dr is going to "take you."

My aunt was 2 weeks overdue with her first and the 3 weeks overdue with TWINS in the mid 70's. I can't imagine that being "allowed" now a days. They just weren't concerned as she was also so late with her first.

My Oma's response to finding out about my having a home birth was neat... I hadn't told her because she worries and freaks out about stuff, but her response was "Well, all of us (her 7 siblings) were born at home" She grew up in Holland and said as kid she only knew of one person who was born in hospital. Just about everyone was born at home. Her mom had 7 home births in the 30's and 40's. Then they came to Canada and when my Oma had kids in the 50's, they were all born in hospital. Practices sure changed a lot in those years, although Holland still in a leader in home birthing.

LMCH's picture
Joined: 02/05/07
Posts: 2031

my grandma did mention that about working in L&D back in the 70s...they never induced a FTM

krazykat's picture
Joined: 08/11/07
Posts: 1143

That is so cool to hear her birthing history like that. I wish I could talk to my grandmother about those sorts of things Sad Unfortunately she's just not an open-talker type of person. Thanks for sharing!! That's really neat.

CaBlondie918's picture
Joined: 01/27/07
Posts: 260

That is interesting. I remember when I first decided on a HB I was hesitant to tell family (besides our moms) because of the reaction (especially my mom's mom) until she told me that my Grandpa's brother was born at home because she had lost a baby between my Grandpa and his brother after having the baby at the hospital (even though my Grandpa was born in the hospital). With DH's grandma, she never said anything about giving birth at home (so I'm assuming they were all hospital births).... I wish I knew more family members who had that experience though.

awini8's picture
Joined: 10/21/06
Posts: 386

My grandmother and I also discussed her 4 births. She was put to sleep and strapped to the bed. She seemed alright with it because it was "what they did back then".

My great grandmother on my father's side, however was a midwife herself in Canada. My father is older born in 1926.

TyrantOfTheWeek's picture
Joined: 12/26/05
Posts: 1147

My dad was born at his grandma's house in the mountains of Tennessee. My great grandma was the midwife that delivered most of the babies in that area. My dad included.

Allie01979's picture
Joined: 10/10/07
Posts: 4706

wow what interesting stories, I would love to ask my grandmother that stuff, but she's pretty much deaf and well I jsut don't have the patience to ask the same question 20x

Me: Meme Where were you born?
meme: Hey???
Me: where were you born?
Meme: no I don't want any corn

:rolleyes:

Mom2ThreeKiddos's picture
Joined: 09/15/09
Posts: 1380

That is very interesting. It is crazy how things changed. By the 60's they were knocking these poor women out. Eeek! Can you imagine?

BuckeyeK's picture
Joined: 10/23/06
Posts: 3087

nak
my grandma had 3 twilight sleep births. she would tell everyone, "it was the best thing in the world to go to sleep and wake up with your baby." yikes!

cactuswren's picture
Joined: 10/19/09
Posts: 4658

So interesting!

My grandma had horrific, complicated hospital births with all three of her kids in the 1950s (partially the doctors' fault, of course, but not entirely)--with my mom they actually told my grandfather that they would only be able to save one of them and which should it be, his wife or his daughter?--thank goodness they ended up being able to save them both! She was supportive of my natural birth center plans, though. She says things like "See now they never would have done that in my day." or "We had never heard of such a thing." but not really in a negative way (and she can be judgemental so I was actually a little surprised and very pleased at her support! Lol

My mom had pitocin with me (1979) because her water broke at 42 weeks after a fall and she still didn't go into labor, but no pain drugs. She was in a public labor ward giving birth next to several other women and the care was just awful--I can't believe she made it through such a terrible birth drug-free (besides the pitocin). She was very supportive of my plans too, although she did ask a lot of questions.

sarahsunshine's picture
Joined: 11/29/06
Posts: 1462

Hmmm... sounds like DH's mom. 6 kids and can't remember any of the births... Also probably thinks we're nuts for having home births, but smart enough to not talk about it. She's probably of the view that "we're lucky it's worked so far but we really should go to the hospital." I may be surprised if I actually bring it up with her... But she'd also probably not bring up her view but say "well, people used to be born at home all the time so what do I know?"

Incidentally, we discovered that she was actually born on her dad's farm... She never knew where she was born exactly since she was shipped off to live with her aunt at age 1 and never met her mom or dad... She found out she had (half) siblings at the age of 60-something!