This page cannot be viewed in frames

Go to page

If you have found a spelling error, please, notify us by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

Roman women often died during childbirth

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

A birthing scene on a Roman sculpture
A birthing scene on a Roman sculpture

Childbirth in ancient times was a huge threat not only to the child, but also to the woman giving birth. Lack of proper sanitary conditions, infections or simply the lack of proper knowledge meant that childbirth was one of the most dangerous moments in a woman’s life.

In ancient Rome, thousands of deaths were recorded during childbirth. Information about deceased women from upper classes and plebeians has survived to our times, but surely the problem also concerned slaves. Among the famous women who died in childbirth is Julia – the daughter of Caesar and wife of Pompey’s also Tullia – beloved daughter of Cicero.

However, we also have information about “ordinary” Romans. One of the tombstones in North Africa was engraved: “she survived thirty-six years and forty days. It was her tenth birth. She died on the third day”. In Croatia, a tombstone from the epitaph was discovered: “she suffered torments in childbirth for four days and did not give birth, and she died anyway”.

Mary Beard claims that statistically 1 in 50 women died during childbirth. Younger women were at greater risk. As mentioned before, a high impact on the high death rate was due to undeveloped medicine, non-compliance with basic hygiene rules, and often associated infections, haemorrhage or obstruction.

  • Beard Mary, SPQR. Historia starożytnego Rzymu, Poznań 2016

IMPERIUM ROMANUM needs your support!

If you like the content that I collect on the website and that I share on social media channels I will be grateful for the support. Even the smallest amounts will allow me to pay for further corrections, improvements on the site and pay the server.



Find out more!

Check your curiosity and learn something new about the ancient world of the Romans. By clicking on the link below, you will be redirected to a random entry.

Random curiosity

Random curiosity

Discover secrets of ancient Rome!

If you want to be up to date with newest articles on website and discoveries from the world of ancient Rome, subscribe to the newsletter, which is sent each Saturday.

Subscribe to newsletter!

Subscribe to newsletter

Spelling error report

The following text will be sent to our editors: