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Folding parturition chair, reputedly Sicilian, 1701-1830

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This birthing chair is specially designed so it can be folded. It is made of wood with a leather seat. The chair reputedly comes from Sicily, Italy. Parturition chairs supported women when they gave birth. This one was used for an estimated 2,000 deliveries while in the possession of a family of midwives for three generations. An image of Christ is painted on the back of the chair above where the woman’s head rested. The image may have been a sign of protection for women and their babies. Childbirth was and still is a risky event.

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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.