Birthing Chair

Vaz/Obervaz, 18th or 19th century

For a long time births were purely a women’s affair. The childbearing woman was helped by a midwife. Her profession belonged to the oldest historically verifiable women’s professions altogether. Usually women gave birth in a sitting position. For this the midwife brought along a birthing chair, she herself sat on a stool at the feet of the expectant mother.

Only from the 18th and 19th century onward obstetrics were taken over by men: Hospital births under the supervision of university-trained doctors became customary and increasingly displaced the midwife-assisted home-births. The birth-position also changed: A birth lying flat was more convenient – for the doctor.