When did natural (unmedicated) childbirth become popular?
During the 1950s and 60s, women became more aware of the problems associated with heavy anesthesia during labor. Dense anesthesia had negative effects on women and their babies, and left women unable to play a role in their own care and that of their babies. Control of childbirth shifted from women (the birthing mother and her midwife), to the physician, (generally male at that time). The growing women’s movement drew attention to this power change and set the stage for the natural childbirth movement. There was a strong sentiment that women, not their healthcare provider, should be in charge of the labor experience. At first glance, the natural childbirth movement may have seemed a step backward in terms of comfort in labor and birth, but several advances had been made in non-medicinal methods of pain relief. Early proponents of natural childbirth (Dick-Read, 1943; Karmal, 1959; Lamaze, 1970; Leboyer, 1975; and Bradley, 1978) developed programs to prepare women for childbirth that inc