Pre-Columbian Birthing Vessel

This image from Lima’s Larco Museum depicts a woman giving birth while aided by two birth attendants. Similar in many ways to the Pre-Columbian Huaco image of crowning previously discussed on Visualizing Birth here, this image differs in that it also includes the attendants, indicating a pre-Columbian tradition of midwifery care or aid to the birthing woman.

Interestingly, the baby here is shown emerging in the posterior position with its head facing up. While this position is understood as more difficult for the laboring woman than is the face down position, the woman depicted here is represented as capable and perhaps even serene as she tilts her head back, eyes closed while her baby crowns.

The pottery piece is helpful in the visualization of birth, connecting other woman to the history of birth through material representation and reminding them that their bodies are capable in the birthing process, even in cases of posterior positioning of the baby. The presentation of the attendants encourages pregnant women, helping to see that community can be an integral and important part of labor and birth.