I went to a talk on the subject of the churching of women today at an authors' lunch club I often go to. The speaker was Margaret Houlbrooke, author of a book on the subject. She had evidence of the churching of women happening in the Church of England well into the 1950s.
Although the churching ceremony is usually described as a service of thanksgiving, certainly in the old days - and, indeed, well into the 20th century - there were still undertones to the practice of a woman giving birth being seen as unclean or impure (after all, she must have had sex).
Margaret referred to "women and their gossips". I knew that a gossip was originally a sponsor at a baptism, but now I also know, because I've looked up 'gossip' in the OED, that another old definition of gossips is "female friends, invited to be present at a birth'. Gossip is an Old English word and comes from 'God + sib', sib meaning 'related by blood' (cf sibling).
Giving birth is a very powerful experience, yet the language of childbirth is often disempowering. Think of 'confinement' (original meaning is 'imprisonment'). Confinement in the childbirth context was first used only in the 18th century. The Middle English equivalent was Our Lady's bands (or bends, or bonds - all words related to the word 'bound' - again there is a sense of 'imprisonment' within the word).
The word 'delivery' is commonly used with relation to childbirth (the original meaning of 'deliver' was 'release from imprisonment or confinement'). The OED's definition of 'deliver' in the birthing sense is very negative and old-fashioned: "To disburden (a woman) of the fœtus, to bring to childbirth; in pass., to give birth to a child or offspring. Rarely said of beasts". There is a much more positive verb - "to birth" - defined as "to give birth to, to give rise to" but this is not in common use, particularly among doctors, although some midwives use it.