Here's the really creepy reason why women mainly give birth lying down
While the feminist movement has come leaps and bounds in recent years, many women still have one major gripe: that we're wholly responsible of carrying and giving birth to the future of humankind. I mean, hosting a veritable parasite inside your body doesn't exactly sound pleasant, does it? And while some women wax lyrical about the joys of gestation, for the majority, there's nothing appealing about morning sickness, stretch marks and going nine months without booze or brie.
And even in a domain that is entirely exclusive to the female experience, the patriarchy has, of course, found a way in. This is most apparent in the manner in which women give birth. If you have given birth yourself, or witnessed the act in the flesh or on television, you'll know that women often lay down throughout the ordeal - and while you may assume that this is the norm, or that it is medically mandated - it couldn't be further from the truth.
Even in the delivery room, it appears that misogyny prevails. While evidence largely suggests that lying on your back during birth prolongs labour and slows contractions, the majority of women in the western world still give birth in this manner. Certainly, X-rays have shown that alternative positions - such as, squatting, kneeling or getting on your hands and knees - widen the pelvic outlet and speed up the process. Why then are we still giving birth on our backs?
As with most things in history, it comes down to an entitled king. Back in 17th-century France, King Louis XIV enjoyed watching his wives give birth in this way, and since then the position has been widespread in Western culture.
"Prior to this time, the recorded history of birthing indicates upright birth postures were used extensively," writes Professor Lauren Dundes in the American Journal of Public Health.
The perverted king, who had 22 children over his lifespan, purportedly "enjoyed watching women giving birth" and "became frustrated by the obscured view of birth when it occurred on a birthing stool". It was because of this that he "promoted the new reclining position". And that wasn't all, he also insisted that male midwives attended every birth.
While scholars have claimed that the king enjoyed watching for "perverted reasons", the trend quickly caught on with the masses. "The influence of the King's policy is unknown, although the behavior of royalty must have affected the populace to some degree," Lauren Dundes continued.
"Louis XIV's purported demand for change did coincide with the changing of the position and may well have been a contributing influence."
And ever since the 17th century, women all around the world have had to contend with slower, and more arduous labours - all because a voyeuristic king wanted to make the whole experience slightly more aesthetically pleasing. How disheartening, eh?