My first homebirth was in l976.
Thought you might like to know how it was to be pregnant in the 70′s.
You know you were pregnant in the 70′s if:
1. You had to battle to keep caustic silver nitrate drops out of your baby’s eyes to prevent gonnorheal infections that you didn’t have.
2. Every maternity top had puff sleeves and frills. All the pants were Fortrel.
3. No one would ever wear a bikini if pregnant. Nothing form-fitting either.
4. Your favourite books were “Birth Without Violence” by Frederic Leboyer and “Spiritual Midwifery” by Ina Mae.
5. Even though you weren’t a hippy, you had to make friends with some hippies to lead you to a midwife.
6. Your midwife was a follower of Baba Hari Dass or Rajhneesh. You never knew her last name and you paid her cash ($75 per birth. . . or $50, if you couldn’t afford it).
7. The idea of waterbirth, Dad’s catching or birth on all 4′s had never occurred to anyone yet. I gave birth at home in the “stranded beatle” position.
8. there was mandatory separation of Mother and baby in hospital births for 24 hrs after birth for “observation” in the newborn nursery.
9. Episiotomy was standard practice for all hospital births unless you could find a British-trained doctor. Then, you’d get one anyway but at least he’d tell you in the office he wouldn’t do one.
l0. The cesarean epidemic had started.
11. Women were told to toughen their nipples with toothbrushes and rough face cloths to prepare for breastfeeding (no one did it). No one knew about positioning for breastfeeding so we held our babies at the breast like we were feeding them a bottle (face up to the ceiling). Sore, cracked bleeding nipples were part of life. Lactation consultants hadn’t been invented.
12. Millions of women had already given one child up for adoption.
13. The high dose birth control pill was tested on us and that could be why a lot of your Moms have breast cancer now.
14. As children, we had played on X ray machines in the shoe stores. Xrays were still used to determine if some women had an “adequate” pelvis.
15. We loved our babies and created a grassroots movement of birth that the most powerful medico-legal-pharmaceutical groups in the world have not been able to quash. We are proud of the young women rising up to carry the torch for us.
(after this was published in Compleat Mother Magazine, I received this note from a young friend)
I tried to explain to my mother the other day about why she was such a birth revolutionary, why I admire her so much,
why the way she has lived is inspiring to me. She doesn’t see it that way at all. She says, she was afraid of needles,
and of being out of control and remembering nothing (on scopolamine) and of not having the money to pay the only doc in town who would do a Le Boyer style birth up front ($1800) and these, she said, were the basis for her choices in childbirth that gave both me and my brother gentle births. I was trying to thank her…lol. Ahh well, perhaps another day.