Back in the 60s, when I was pregnant with my only child, women in labor were "knocked out" with general anesthesia. I was still scared, not only of the birth, but of being responsible for a tiny life. I had NO experience in caring for babies (thank goodness for Dr. Spock!)
I lived a block from the hospital, so when I went into labor around 3 AM, my husband and I walked to the hospital around 6 AM. I remember thinking that this was the first time in my life that I had gotten into something I couldn't get out of. This baby was going to come!
I was given an enema and it seemed I was on the toilet forever. I could hear the woman in the adjoining labor room yelling "Aiii yiii yiii!" That didn't help my nervousness.
After prepping me (back then they shaved the public hair), they decided to break my water to hurry the labor along. That hurt! It was my first big contraction.
Quite frankly, I remembered nothing else except someone telling me to push... until I was in the elevator going to my room. I woke up and a nurse told me I had a baby girl. Since I didn't really remember it, I thought she was kidding me. She told me to feel my belly. I did and it was flat.
I managed to stay in the hospital for five days. My husband had good insurance and I was not anxious to be left alone at home with this baby. Somehow she survived my inexperience and lack of knowledge in caring for an infant and today is a middle-aged women with grown children.
I do think that birth today is better with an epidural. The baby's respiratory system is not compromised as it was with general anesthesia. And to you ladies who are doing natural childbirth: My hat is off to you. I never would have had the courage.