Childbirth is simultaneously a natural, social, culturally bound, and political event. Evolutionary biologists know that the pelvis of the female human is different than the pelvis of the female primate; the human's pelvis is flatter, causing a more challenging birth for women than primates. Because of the pain that accompanies childbirth, most females around the world have always desired to have social support during labor and delivery. Across cultures, very few communities encourage women to be alone during labor and delivery. As a result, a human birth is a social enterprise, influenced by community values, norms, and ideologies. Childbirth is an event that influences and is influenced by the communities in which it occurs.

Until approximately 300 years ago, childbirth practices were surprisingly similar across cultural ...

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