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.
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)
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.
~Joy~ DS1-8/5/05, DS2-10/18/10 (VBAC#1), DS3- 4/11/12 (VBAC#2!)
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.
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!
Last edited by gardenbug; 10-17-2010 at 05:24 AM.
Leo (3 1/2) with Malcolm the cat
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!!!
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.
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.
That is so cool to hear her birthing history like that. I wish I could talk to my grandmother about those sorts of things Unfortunately she's just not an open-talker type of person. Thanks for sharing!! That's really neat.
Ariel & John: Military Family since May 17, 2006
Sylvia: 12/18/08, Justus: 9/17/10, Bunni: 5/11/12, Surprise Baby: Guess Date 11/5/13