Join us for a conversation with Gillian Bentley (Durham University), John Gorman (Independent Scholar), and Charlotte Roberts (Durham University). In this presentation based on a recent EMPH paper, the authors argue that a lifestyle of habitual squatting could have significantly improved childbirth outcomes and made labour easier for ancestral women. They apply principles derived from engineering to discuss the morphology of the pelvic anatomy and how habitual squatting could widen the pelvic outlet and increase flexion at the sacra-iliac joint. We discuss problems in attempting to assess this hypothesis given that few populations exist that still habitually squat, their accessibility for examination using suitable technologies is difficult, and the likelihood that frequent squatters would also experience nutritional deprivation affecting women’s optimal growth and development.
Attendees are encouraged to read Gorman et al. 2022, “Squatting, pelvic morphology and a reconsideration of childbirth difficulties” (https://doi.org/10.1093/emph/eoac017) and view the video contained in the Supplementary Materials (https://academic.oup.com/emph/article/10/1/243/6574349#356039232). Attendees may also be interested in reading Haeusler et al. 2021, “The obstetrical dilemma hypothesis: there’s life in the old dog yet” (https://doi.org/10.1111/brv.12744), Wells 2015, “Between Scylla and Charybdis: renegotiating resolution of the ‘obstetric dilemma’ in response to ecological change” (https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2014.0067), and Abitbol 1987, “Obstetrics and posture in pelvic anatomy” (https://doi.org/10.1016/0047-2484(87)90001-7).