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Parturition chair, England, 1601-1700

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A parturition chair, or birthing chair, lets the mother sit upright while giving birth. However, it has a low centre of gravity so the mother can also squat and still be supported by the chair. The chair is made of elm and oak with a removable keyhole seat. This allows a clear route for the emerging baby and access for those assisting the birth. The elaborate carved leaf motif on the back and sides suggests this may have belonged to a wealthy family. Birthing chairs were used from ancient times until the 1800s. They were often passed down in families.

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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.