Ancient Egyptian image: visualizing a kneeling position during birth

Childbirth scene, Kom Ombo Temple, partial relief
Photo by G. Blanchard (2006)
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Ancient images of birth that depict a woman’s kneeling or squatting position during labor are not uncommon. In this image from the Kom Ombo Temple constructed during Egypt’s Ptolemaic dynasty (305 – 30 BCE), a relief depicts a woman giving birth while kneeling, arms raised slightly and at her sides. Visualizing Birth has previously looked at a squatting position from Ancient Egypt (Ancient relief from the Temple of Hathor). 

For some women in labor, the kneeling position may be optimal. Similar to squatting or partially reclined positions, the kneeling position utilizes gravity, which helps the birthing baby. This Kom Ombo Temple relief image normalizes the birthing process and also reminds pregnant women preparing for birth, perhaps especially for first time mothers who feel isolated or alone as labor approaches, that a long lineage of women before them have given birth. Connecting to those from the past who have also experienced birth can mentally strengthen a woman as she prepares for the birth of her own child.