Approaches to pregnancy and childbirth have changed gradually through the ages. Primitive women went through their entire pregnancies with no problems. When the time to give birth arose, she merely went about it quietly and with little or no pain. There was no interference from anyone. The whole birth process took her away from regular life activities for perhaps a couple of hours.
As people became more “civilized” (in their diets and lifestyles), they began creating means of intervention—attending the processes of pregnancy, labor, and delivery “better than nature” could. One tribe of people is reported to have hung pregnant women upside down from a tree to scare the baby out. Another tribe had someone sit on a pregnant woman’s belly to force out the child. These people had no understanding of the mechanics of labor and childbirth.
Man had a wonder and fear of childbirth as he had never observed it. He believed women possessed some sort of “power.” Because of this, he eventually took charge of the entire birth process (from conception to birth) by interfering in its natural progression: Practices such as drugging during labor, Caesarean sections, forceps deliveries, drugs for various “complications” of pregnancy, etc., were ushered in.
Now there are even more devices to “aid” women through labor and delivery. Devices such as sonar sound, fetal heart monitors, etc., are very commonplace in hospital deliveries. You can even find out the sex of your baby ahead of time now.
Humans seem to have lost faith in nature and most do not believe that a birth can be natural. Most of us have little or no knowledge of the factors that create a normal pregnancy and childbirth. Pregnancy is regarded as disease to be treated. Women usually give birth in hospitals for the convenience of physicians. Physicians have long since discovered that interference in childbirth is an economic plus for them.
Despite all of this, there is a growing number of women (usually educated) that no longer patronize physician/hospital births. They are choosing homebirths attended by midwives or by their husbands alone. These women have a thorough knowledge of the mechanics of their bodies throughout the birthing process and also know that diet, exercise, etc., during preconception and pregnancy have much to do with how well the birth process will go and how healthy the child will be.