There was a time when birth was treated as a natural process rather than a medical condition. Before 1800, women gave birth sitting in birth chairs or on stools and were helped along by midwives. The social changes in attitudes toward women and the practice of medicine made birthing a province of the male-dominated medical profession.
During the 1800s, the change from a natural philosophy of birth to a medical one was partly a result of heightened understandings of anatomy and physiology. The medical profession was growing and with it grew the awareness of the economic rewards of making delivery a specialized practice. In the background of the medical profession's rise was the prevailing perception of women as fragile invalids. Gradually, midwives and birth chairs were relegated to rural and
Elaine Nall Bay
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