Childbirth is a beautiful and fascinating time in a couples´ lives. To watch a new being come into the world and know that it is yours to love and nurture, and to see the birth in itself is an experience unlike anything else. Nowadays birthing techniques are advanced and well-studied. However, it was not always this way and while giving birth is similar from one woman to the next, the ways in which different cultures handle childbirth has evolved over the years. Countless books have been written on the subject and the experts concur in positions and techniques for a safer experience for the mother and the child. The evolution of these techniques is amazing and it is definitely something worth studying.
The earliest records come from Ancient Egypt when women were at very high risk while giving birth because not much was known about the human body and there were virtually no drugs to ease the pain or prevent infection. Expectant mothers usually lay on a bed and the only people allowed to join her in these moments were the midwives. This was a common practice all over the world until the 18th century as men were considered unnecessary during this time, unless, of course, he was a doctor.
Roman & Greek Background
The best description of births in times past come from Rome and Greece. In Rome there was a special chair specifically designed for this moment. The pregnant woman would sit on this chair that had a hole cut out and this birthing position was very comfortable for the patient. However, the midwives had to be very careful to catch the baby, so it would not hit the floor. While not commonly used today, this technique made sense as it allowed gravity to help in the process and made birth easier for the mother.
Middle Ages Myths
Subsequent delivery methods took many elements from myth and most of medicine was not based on evidence. During the Middle Ages there were many odd procedures in practice. Midwives would sometimes press down on the woman´s belly in order to make the baby come out faster. This was a very risky technique both for the mother and the child and there were many cases of delivery going wrong. An array of liquors was given to mothers in order to ease the pain. Some of them, like opium, were very dangerous, some mothers died during delivery because the dose was too strong.
In the 18th century forceps were invented and were used to pull the baby out of the womb when the mother was too tired to push. It seemed quite logical but sometimes the trauma it caused left marks on the baby and the mother. The 20th century was when birthing techniques were improved upon. Mothers now received proper pain relief and were able go through a safer labor with less pain. Also, in cases of difficult natural births, C-sections are utilized. C-sections are very efficient, and many women prefer it in order to avoid any possible complications during labor.