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Copy of a parturition chair, London, England, 1912 (?)

Parturition or birthing chairs were used to provide support for a woman during childbirth. Many parturition chairs were family heirlooms which were passed down through the generations. They are still used in some countries today. Some chairs were quite complex designs with adjustable arm and foot rests for the mother’s comfort. Some could also be folded to convert into a bed or operating table. This chair is based on an earlier, simpler design. It has a solid wooden frame and wide, open arms. It dates from 1400-1600. This replica was made in the 1900s at the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum workshops.

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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.