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Parturition chair, Europe, 1601-1700

Parturition or birthing chairs supported the mother while in labour. The arm and foot rests on this wooden chair can be moved for the mother’s comfort. The seat is shaped to allow access during childbirth and provide a clear route for the baby to emerge. The chair can also be folded down to convert into a bed or an operating table. This ornately carved example may be French, but the use of hand rests was a German innovation. Many parturition chairs were family heirlooms and passed through generations. Birthing chairs are still used in some countries.

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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.