A study of a "birth belt" in England dating back to the fifteenth century and bearing supportive biological evidence revealed rituals practiced by women at that time to protect women from death during fetal delivery, which is a rare testimony of birth methods in the Middle Ages.
This belt is a piece of worn sheepskin, but it is well preserved. Invitations and pictures are engraved on it, including a cross, which appears to have been touched repeatedly, according to this study published Wednesday in the scientific journal "Society Open Science".
This belt, which was 10 centimeters wide and more than 3 meters long, according to researchers, was wrapped around the women's stomachs to give them protection, like a talisman. Thanks to a precise biomolecular analysis technique, a team of researchers was able to discover traces of honey, milk, eggs and pills as well as vaginal fluids, which clearly indicates its "active use during childbirth," according to "France Press" quoted by the lead author of the study Sarah Vediment of the MacDonald Institute of Archeology, At the University of Cambridge.
This is the first time that researchers have been able to prove that this belt, known for a long time, was used during pregnancy and until birth, while neonatal mortality rates were high, reaching between 30 and 60 percent, according to the study.
This discovery provides rare tangible testimony to women's health and midwifery, at a time when "birth reports were written by men," commented co-author Matthew Collins of the University of Copenhagen. According to the study, the use of the belt "shows that the women were practicing high-precision rituals that combined spells and religious protections."