Pregnancy, giving birth and child rearing
The nature of women means that we are charged with the perpetuation of our species. Pregnancy, childbirth and child rearing is part of human physiology and it is the way in which generations succeed each other. However, although they are natural processes, their complexity has led to the creation of networks, mainly of women, that offer support in their different phases.
Gestation entails significant changes in the life of a woman, with dietary and hygienic needs that favour successful foetal development.
Childbirth is a social event in most known cultures. It takes place in the company of others, mainly women, while not ruling out the support of men (generally the partner), which is documented in geographical areas where the population is dispersed.
We do not know exactly how and where childbirth took place, although we can be sure that a suitable setting would have included low light, respectful accompaniment and expert help if necessary. We cannot know the exact customs of each society regarding the most suitable postures during dilatation and foetal expulsion, although we could suggest those most commonly used in places with little or no medical assistance.
There can be no doubt that newborns were breastfed by their mothers. Infants were thus provided with the most suitable nutrients for each stage of their development and the basic immunological defences during the first months of their lives, as well as the necessary affective support for their successful emotional development.
Picture: Birth assisted by two women in the time of the Iberians. Illustrated by ªRU-MOR