You know when your ancestors were born, but do you know how they were born?
If you’re a mother or an expectant mother, you may identify with your female forebears who’ve experienced the miracle of birth. But your modern childbirth experience likely bears little resemblance to your ancestors’.
“Women have been giving birth for thousands of years, but the way in which we do it—alone in a field, at home with female friends, in a hospital with male doctors, with or without pain relief—is a reflection of the culture of the time and place where it happens,” says Tina Cassidy, author of Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born (Grove Press). Even in modern America, how and where a woman brings her children into the world depend on factors such as her class, race, marital status and the social norms of her community.