The Sad Truth About Pregnancy in Ancient Greece (Video)
In ancient Greece, pregnancy was far from the experience we know today. The era was marked by perilous uncertainty for expectant mothers and their unborn children. The duty of women was clear: procreate and ensure the birth of male heirs to defend their cities. However, gender was not within their control, and many baby girls met grim fates due to ancient beliefs. Doctors held peculiar notions about the female body, with the infamous "wandering womb" syndrome causing various maladies. To anchor the wandering womb, doctors prescribed pregnancy. They believed that a baby's weight would keep it in place, even though childbirth brought its own set of pains and risks. The Greeks also misunderstood women's physiology, thinking they had more pores, which led to menses and painful cramps.
In those days, pregnancy lacked modern interventions like C-sections or blood transfusions. Consequently, maternal and infant mortality rates were distressingly high. To manage family legacies, contraception and abortion were accepted practices. Doctors would often turn to prayer when complications arose, seeking divine intervention. Fertility goddesses like Artemis and Hera received offerings, symbolizing the journey of pregnancy. Pregnancy in ancient Greece was a tumultuous affair, fraught with uncertainties and superstitions. It reminds us of the stark contrast to today's safer and more informed maternal care, where science has replaced myths and gods.
- Bizarre Methods of Baby Detection: A Short History of the Pregnancy Test
- Ancient Childbirth Beliefs and Rituals Thought to Protect Mother and Child
Top image: Pregnancy in ancient Greece was a difficult time. Source: migfoto / Adobe Stock.