For those who are wondering how natural childbirth has evolved over history, the short answer is it hasn't. Natural birth has been around longer than doctor-managed birth and much of the techniques that were once used in natural labor and delivery are still used today.
The biggest difference between the modern natural (organic) delivery of a child is the additional monitoring available and non-deadly medical intervention (like c-sections) that's used in present-day natural deliveries only if absolutely necessary. For example, in ancient times there was no such thing as a Doppler to monitor the baby's heartbeat. There were no comfortable beds and sterile dressings. Women labored in their homes. But the actual laboring techniques haven't changed since that time. Modern women who choose a natural baby delivery tend to favor laboring in an upright position to take advantage of gravity, much as they did in ancient times. They tend to listen to what they're bodies are telling them about the birthing process, much as childbirth was like in ancient times.
Childbirth 100 Years Ago
One hundred years ago natural childbirth was not actively promoted within most western countries. Doctor-managed birth was the norm and had been since the Victorian era. In the early 1900s labor was even further removed from being natural by the increased focus and promotion of hospital births. Hospitals were promoted as being the safest and most sterile places to have a child. That and the appeal of pain medication to help manage or completely get rid of labor pain helped increase the popularity of hospital births. Twilight Sleep was introduced in 1914. By the 1930s it was common practice and women were always anesthetized with a mix of morphine and scopolamine. As a result they didn't feel any labor pain because they didn't remember anything about the procedure.
The Return to Natural Delivery
It was also around the 1930s that a movement to return back to the ancient roots of birthing began. British obstetrician Grantly Dick-Read wrote a book called Natural Childbirth in the 1930s and followed this book with another one in 1942 called Childbirth Without Fear. His books promoted that a woman in naturally adequately prepared to birth a child without external medical intervention. Basically, women know how to give birth without epidurals, fear and machines.
A natural delivery video published in 2000 called Born in the USA shows that modern births are becoming much too complicated with too many interventions. As a result women who give birth in a busy hospital attended to by physicians tend to feel tense and pressured to give birth quickly and often need the comfort of medication. Women who are allowed to labor naturally, often tended to by midwives, often don't need the comfort of medication. They, of course, still experience labor pains but the process of giving birth is much less clinical and ultimately more relaxing, assuming there are no complications.
Natural Delivery Statistics
There are not a lot of concrete statistics available regarding natural births. It's not a field many statisticians are interested in recording. Home birth statistics from 2005 show that between 14 and 19 percent of women chose to birth at home in the UK. Scotland had a home birth rate of 14.6 percent. In 2007 Statistics Canada reported that Canadian women who had chosen a midwife delivery, which tends to be natural, rated their experiences as positive 71 percent of the time compared to the 53 percent of women who had a positive experience with doctors.
According to the 1998 book Maternity Care in the Netherlands: the changing home birth rate by T.A. Wiegers, 30 percent of births in the Netherlands are home births which likely makes it the country with the most annual natural births. Less than one percent of Korean infants are born at home which indicates that Korea likely has the lowest annual rate of natural births.