This introduction presents an overview of key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book focuses on the phenomenon of birth precisely because of its centrality to women's lives. It highlights how the full social context in which childbirth, or any other medical event occurs, has to be considered to understand its history. The dominant feminist view of childbirth in the 1970s was summarized by American feminist academic Sheryl Ruzek who claimed in 1978 that, obstetrician-gynecologists fight to keep delivery their exclusive domain, even if it requires transforming what might be otherwise normal births into surgical events. The subjects of the book are the various stakeholders in childbirth services, women, midwives, physicians, governments and the voluntary sector, as well as the broader ideological and religious concerns that underlay the services provided, and how these stakeholders and concerns have shaped women's experiences of childbirth.