Past the 1800s
With a decrease in immigration after World War I so came a decrease in a supply of foreign-trained midwives and the immigrant women they tended to service.
Hospital births became more common in the 1900s and so did the perception that labor and delivery was a process that needed to be hurried for the health of the mother and baby.
Birth became a procedure much like a surgical procedure where women were drugged, strapped to a bed flat on their backs with the purpose to get the baby out as quickly as possible. Forceps use increased and episiotomies were common.
Still, this happened while women were unconscious so they didn't experience the pain of childbirth, an appealing option that made hospital births more appealing for some women. Government laws prohibited midwives from practicing, which also encouraged hospital deliveries.
Modern Birthing Techniques
Most women still choose to have their babies in hospitals but some countries, states or provinces legally allow home births under the guidance of skilled midwives. Birthing centers are also gaining popularity with women who have uncomplicated deliveries.
Women who choose to have hospital births still tend to give birth while lying on their backs. Pain medication like an epidural makes this position more bearable.
Some doctors prefer to give their patients medication to speed up contractions. Medication and bed rest may be necessary to slow down what looks like a preterm birth like when a woman goes into labor 34 weeks pregnant.
This option was not available in the 1800s and a premature baby was often at risk of infections and health problems.