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Parturition chair, Germany, 1601-1700

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This example of an adjustable parturition chair, or birthing chair, is from the 1600s. It let the mother sit upright while giving birth. The seat shape allows a clear route for the emerging baby and access for those assisting the birth. It also has hand grips and leg rests to aid the mother’s labour. Birthing chairs were used from ancient times until the 1800s. They were often passed down in families. Some birthing chairs also have a low centre of gravity so the mother can squat and still be supported by the chair. When not in use, it can be folded for storage.

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Glossary: parturition chair

Chair used during parturition, a seat in which a mother may give birth to her child

Glossary: obstetrics

A branch of medicine dealing with the care of women. This care occurs during pregnancy, childbirth, and the period of recovery from childbirth.