Well, this is weird.
You see, according to a paper written by Professor Lauren Dundes and published in the American Journal of Public Health, women didn’t always give birth lying down. It’s a relatively new concept.
For a very long time women were content giving birth while standing up, squatting or sitting down. Even an ancient statue of Cleopatra depicts her kneeling down to give birth, surrounded by five attendants… like you do.
Later, humans got a little crafty and designed birthing stools and chairs for women to sit on while giving birth.
Chris Judd talks about what happened in the birth suite. Post continues.
But then King Louis XIV came along.
King Louis XIV ruled France from 1643 to 1715. He also had over 22 children with his wives and mistresses. Yep, wives and mistresses.
During these frequent births, King Louis XIV realised he quite liked watching women give birth, but he didn’t like that his view was obstructed by upright positions or birthing chairs.
So, good ole’ Louis decided all his wives and mistresses should give birth lying down on a bed with their legs, erm, spread-eagled so he could get a good view of the whole process.
“Since Louis XIV reportedly enjoyed watching women giving birth, he became frustrated by the obscured view of birth when it occurred on birthing stool, and promoted the new reclining position,” Professor Dundes wrote in the American Journal of Public Health.
Legend has it that when the “lower classes” got wind of the fact their King prefer this birthing position, they also adopted it.
“The influence of the King’s policy is unknown, although the behaviour of royalty must have affected the populace to some degree,” wrote Professor Dundes.
During her research Professor Dundes found the French obstetrician, François Mauriceau, also played a role in making the lying down position more popular as he thought it was more “convenient”.
Mauriceau said the position was not only more convenient for the woman (because she got to lie down) but it was more convenient to those assisting in the birth as they didn’t have to carry her to the bed afterwards.
He also once referred to pregnancy as a “tumour of the belly” so we shouldn’t give this guy too much credit.
Monique Bowley and Bec Judd are joined by Bec’s husband Chris, to run through birth from a father’s perspective.