Visualizing Birth through images of Ixchel, Maya goddess of birth and medicine

Ixchel aiding a woman in birth, artist unknown

This image of Ixchel (also Ix Chel) aiding a woman in birth comes from The Blue Roebuck’s online index of goddesses. Ixchel, a goddess of midwifery, pregnancy, and childbirth in the Mayan culture, is still referenced today and used by women as a symbol of strength and support in contemporary rituals of birth as a rite of passage.

In this image, a woman is supported by Ixchel to the right and another woman to her left, held up as she stands in water and births her baby. The powerful image is unabashed in its representation of the birthing process, providing pregnant women with a view of a water birth, as well as one in which a woman stands to give birth, aided by gravity and the support of two birth attendants.