The Culture of Childbirth

According to Fit Pregnancy magazine, mothers are having slower labors than they were fifty years ago. The National Institutes of Health says that our 6 ½ hour labor is about two and a half hours longer than our grandmothers’. Maternal age, bigger babies, and laboring position could be just some of the causes. Whatever the reason, babies are apparently in no rush these days. Since both of mine were determined to stay in the womb as long as humanly possible, I feel for new mamas. That extra 2 ½ hours must be like that 25th mile of a marathon.

But if you are a new mother-to-be, whether it’s the first time around or the fifth, take a moment to read up on the history of how birth has changed in our culture. As pain medication became more readily accessible and women believed that doctors were safer, we started the transfer from at-home midwife births to hospital births around the turn of the century. Though in recent years, there has been a new surge for midwives and birthing centers. I chat with many moms about their own experiences and I’ve heard a wide range of stories from scheduled cesareans to home water births to unassisted births. Have you heard of that last one? I’m convinced that any momma who does that deserves a medal of honor and maybe a superhero cape. I, however, am too much of a chicken.

If I could offer any wisdom to someone doing this for the first time, I’d advise you never to be afraid to ask questions. There may have been a time when you did what your doctor told you to do, but this is a new day and age. Trust your gut, ladies!

For those of you who have had babies before, what advice would you give an expectant mommy?



About Maia Rodriguez

"Military Mom" Maia Rodriguez was born in Cleveland, Ohio, but that was about twenty homes ago. After graduating from Syracuse University with a BFA in Musical Theater, she traveled just about everywhere in the country, lived in a green turtle-like tent for 6 months, toured and slept in the back of her van and even worked in Japan for a year. Then she met her husband who tamed her (ha!) and they embarked together on the adventure of parenthood in southern California where she worked as a professional pirate. Now, two children later, the family currently resides in VIrginia, where she sings for the US Navy as a vocalist. When she’s not mothering, she’s writing music for "Evernight," singing and writing for the Baby Bullet Blog.


  1. I like the midwives and would suggest them to anyone, mainly because they focus on pregnacy in general.

    • Sara, accessibility to midwives can often depend on your insurance company and what state you live in. While they’re more cost effective than going to a hospital, it can be challenging to get an insurance company to cover them. Did you go with a midwife?

  2. twifenmom says:

    My suggestion is look into midwives before any other options. They are so compassionate & offer equal parts natural & medical advice. You can choose to birth @ home or hospital with a midwife & they will tranfer you to your OB if the need arises. Best experience I ever had & will never regret it!

    • The biggest question I get about midwives are, “What do you do if something goes wrong?” Part of it is that a midwife surveys the territory before even accepting the job. So if you have a history of difficult pregnancies, a midwife might suggest going to a hospital. But yes, many moms are now learning that the midwife option is open to them. In European hospitals a midwife quite often works along side the doctor for the delivery of the baby, which I think is an excellent option for women.

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