Parturition Chairs: The Birthing Seats of the 18th Century

From the ancient times until the 1800s, many women gave birth with the aid of specially designed seats, called the parturition chairs, that allowed them to sit upright or recline while giving birth.

This particular chair had padded leather rests for the mother’s legs, but the parturition chairs came in a number of designs. Some had extendable leg rests that aren’t a far cry from modern gynecological stirrups. Others were much simpler, simply giving those assisting with the birth easy access to the infant while the mother remained somewhat upright.

Adjustable birthing chair, Europe, 1750-1850


In some families, the chairs were treated as heirlooms, passed down from one generation to the next. Hopefully, at least some these chairs got nice, pillowy upgrades through the birthing ages.

Parturition chair, Europe, 1601-1700

Science Museum

Parturition chair, Germany, 1701-1900 | Parturition chair, Germany, 1601-1700 | Copy of a 1532 parturition chair


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