History of Active Birth

Active Birth is nothing new

Vertical positions in labour are evident throughout history. The remains of a clay statue in Turkey dating as far back as 5750BC shows a mother giving birth in a squatting position. This position is also depicted in an Aztec stone fertility stone figure from Mexico. The Egyptian hieroglyph ‘to give birth’ shows a mother squatting also. A marble figure from Sparta, 500BC shows kneeling as the birth position.

Labour positions as well as birth positions are also recorded in the vertical position. In the Old Testament, Exodus, Chapter 1, Verse 16 states:

‘When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools….”

The first record of a woman giving birth on a bed was Louis XIV’s mistress. She lay, supine on a bed behind a curtain so that the King could watch the birth. The position was to aid viewing not the mother.

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