Parturition chair or commode, with removeable keyhole seat, and carved leaf motif on back and sides, elm and oak, English, 17th century
A parturition chair, or birthing chair, lets the mother sit upright while giving birth. However, it has a low centre of gravity so the mother can also squat and still be supported by the chair. The chair is made of elm and oak with a removable keyhole seat. This allows a clear route for the emerging baby and access for those assisting the birth. The elaborate carved leaf motif on the back and sides suggests this may have belonged to a wealthy family. Birthing chairs were used from ancient times until the 1800s. They were often passed down in families.