I finished another book last night, Birth: The Surprising History of How We are Born by Tina Cassidy. After reading it, I am truly in awe that any of us are here.
The author decided to write the book after she ended up having an emergency c-section after several hours of labor. While still in the hospital she learned from the doctor that had this been 100 years early her child would have been removed (in pieces) and more than likey she would have died from infection.
While birth is a natural process, it is clear that over the years it has been subject to trends. It was pretty interesting to see how people jumped on the band wagon. For example, it is only in the last decade or so that it was determined it wasn't the best idea to hang a just born baby upside down and give it a smack on the rump. Now we believe that newborns should be handled with the utmost care. Also out are enemas and shaving pubic hair. Unfortunately c-sections are in.
The book certainly is not for the faint of heart. There is discussion of many of the intruments used over the ages to make birth easier (for the doctor in most cases). Pretty scary stuff.
But I do agree with the reviews, that it should be on the reading list of any pregnant woman. If nothing else, it may help prepare you for what to expect and what might work best for you. This is a new book and currently available only in hardback, but I managed to borrow it from the library.