Two great curses haunted natural childbirth from ancient times, the shrunken pelvis and obstructed labour. With urbanization and hospitalization, puerperal fever became common. Because so often mothers died in childbirth and children in infancy, attitudes towards birth and babies were different from ours. Parents expected that children would die in infancy, and death in childbirth was an expected tragedy.
Part of the University of Manitoba's History of Medicine program, this site provides a brief overview of the history of fatalities associated with childbearing.