The medicalization of pregnancy and childbirth is an occurrence that started in the 19th century and still continues today. It is taking the normal natural occurrence of pregnancy and childbirth and making it an illness in need of medical attention. For thousands of years women have given birth safely with the help of midwives, friends, and relatives outside of hospitals. But in recent years it has become expected (98% of children are currently born in a hospital) that women are to have babies in a hospital under a physician's eye, attached to monitors, given drugs, and given episiotomies. Women are called patients and admitted to hospitals. Mortality rates have dropped for lots of reasons not just moving birthing to hospitals. Some of these reasons are prenatal care, nutrition, women's health, and the understanding of the woman's body.

Medicalization has its benefits, but it also has created many problems for women during birth.

In the hospital much of the dignity was taken from childbirth. Women also cannot control their own health and body in a hospital. Women are shaved, and sliced for reasons that have no real support. For instance episiotomies are often performed so that a woman won’t tear during birth. It's like burning down your own house so someone else won't. In studies women heal better and faster without episiotomies, have less pain during sex months later, and have more comfort in the few weeks after childbirth. They are also covered up and draped so that the doctor would only see a vagina instead of the entire woman. Pregnant women became subjects to the patriarchal world that we live in, where medicine rules over nature. Traditionally women have given birth squatting or standing, due to the medicalization of childbirth women now are forced to give birth laying down with their feet in the air (a position made popular by a rich and powerful man years ago because he wanted to stand behind a curtain and get a good look at his wife birthing their child). This position allows the doctor to stand or sit without having to put much physical effort into the birth, by bending his/her back. But the position actually makes going through the labor and childbirth more difficult for women. She must push her baby in an uphill fashion going against gravity. In the hospital, women are usually attached to machines and monitors. This is a sort of bondage for women. Her body is working extremely hard and she is stuck to the bed in what could be an uncomfortable position for her. When women have the chance they usually prefer to walk, move, bathe, and bend during labor and birth.

The reason that so many women today still have children in hospitals is because there is a lack of options, the idea that a woman won’t be able to take the pain, and that our culture does not support home births. There are fewer midwives available today. And most of us still think that all births should be under a doctor’s close watch. In actuality midwives are just as reliable if not more for low risk women. Let me repeat for low risk women. They spend an average of 50 hours with women before the actual delivery, while doctors spend an average of 5. Midwives are about 1/2 to 1/3 of the cost of doctors. They perform less C-sections, episiotomies, and other surgeries. Hollywood portrays only the most painful and difficult of childbirth and therefore women begin to think that they will not be able to take the pain. The pain may be intense, but many women today want to be alert enough to remember their delivery. With the ability to sit in warm water, and move around more women can deliver their children without drugs.

The medicalization of pregnancy is only one of the many aspects of women's health that has been turned into an illness and something that a woman can no longer control.