-2

I don't really know where to ask this question, and how to name it properly in short. But here:

As I read through historical literature about middle ages it seemed like the dark times: constant wars, people starving, high rates of mortality, exceptionally from plague in Europe. As I asked my wife (she's a future doctor) why does a baby require so much purity, Especially when women give birth nowadays, it continues about 12 hours in a hospital in conditions close to sterile.

But I don't think, that in middle ages there were hospitals. And now the escalation: also the Europe was unclean country -> and what about peasants, they could only hope for medical treatment -> giving thoughts about extreme amounts of diseases flying around how did humanity even survive all the extreme conditions of that time? (I can't say much about aristocracy, because despite their ill looks they received medical treatment)

And here is a summary: If giving birth and child raising is so sensitive to conditions like purity and health, why haven't Europe just vanished in, say, 100 years? How did women bring a child into the world in such chaos? Because for me the probability of success (that means a child was born and mother is not dead and can continue making babies, sorry for such explanation) is miserable compare to probability of death from disease or a war loss.

closed as off-topic by SJuan76, Pieter Geerkens, Lars Bosteen, José Carlos Santos, sempaiscuba Apr 22 at 7:07

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question is too basic; it can be definitively answered by a single link to the relevant topic on Wikipedia or another standard reference source. If you are instead questioning the correctness of a reference source, please edit the post to supply a link and explain what you find unclear, or why you believe it to be wrong or incomplete." – SJuan76, Lars Bosteen, José Carlos Santos, sempaiscuba
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 6
    It is not that giving birth and child raising is so sensitive to conditions like purity and health in the sense that all the children born in unsanitary conditions will die young, it is that the rate of infant mortality would increase. And, as conditions improved the "aceptable" rate of loses has disminished dramatically. A mortality rate of 25% would be unaceptable anywhere as of today, but could have been normal in the Middle Ages. And of course, the solution was to have lots of children. – SJuan76 Apr 21 at 21:43
  • 4
    50% mortality rate in childbirth if I recall. That is one of the reasons that older men married younger women - older women were dead. I suspect it is one of the reasons that women's life expectancy currently exceeds men's - history made a concerted effort to kill women, and only the hardiest survived. @Sjuan76 has a good summary. – Mark C. Wallace Apr 21 at 21:49
  • 3
    “when I asked my wife she told me the same - high mortality -> more children”: Ilya, that could almost be construed as you trusting more random, unknown people on the Internet than your wife... – DaG Apr 21 at 22:14
  • 2
    The childbirth process is the result of evolution, and prior to the 20th century, 50% infant mortality was normal, so you can assume from the outset that the average number of children a woman with absolutely no medical care will produce in her lifetime exceeds four. Medieval woman, while not having modern medicine, almost certainly had more medical help than prehistoric women. – Steven Burnap Apr 22 at 1:30
  • 3
    It's also a question of numbers! With no effective birth control, and women having little/no control over their reproductive rights, a woman could theoretically give birth once a year. Given young marriages, a 16 year old bride could have 10 children before she was 30,if she survived. If even only 2/3 survive, so does the human race. – TheHonRose Apr 22 at 5:22
5

Until very recently people gave birth in their homes. I was born at home, so was my sister (early sixties). In most European countries many women still give birth in their homes. With proper hygiene, qualified midwives and medical care during the pregnancy, there's nothing wrong with that. In my family birth is given in hospital when complications are expected. (That's anecdotal evidence, but I do hear that a lot.)

You are correct that the lack of hygiene was very dangerous to mother and child. In those days people didn't know any better - proper hygiene became prevalent after 1860-1880 with the advent of medicine.

But that doesn't automatically want to say that everyone died. More people survived giving birth, otherwise humanity would have been extinct.

  • 5
    Prior to ideas about proper hygiene, hospitals were significantly more dangerous than home births – Steven Burnap Apr 22 at 22:55

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.