Granny women, yarb (herb) doctors in their own right, served as local midwives. Their skills and secrets were handed down from generation to generation, each generation revising and improving the 'recipes' as they learned new skills. They used a variety of herbs (yarbs) in their work. A Granny Woman often gave the mother-to-be slippery elm bark tea to speed delivery, blackberry tea to prevent hemorrhaging, and raspberry to relax uterine muscles.
Folk Beliefs that Granny Women used included letting the woman hold her husband's hat to symbolize her husband in the room, opening all the doors and windows (if there were any windows in the cabin) to 'open' to birth canal, and of course, putting an ax or large knife under the bed to 'cut' the pain.
Granny women were prevalent in mountain communities up until about WWII. Do any of you know any stories about Granny Women?