Credit: BBC

The real reasons why childbirth is so painful and dangerous

A central assumption of the obstetric dilemma is that the size and shape of the human pelvis – and the female pelvis in particular – is highly constrained by our habit of walking upright on two legs. After all, if evolution could have “solved” the problem of human childbirth by simply making women’s hips a little wider and the birth canal a little larger, it surely would have done so by now.

Colin Barras asks why exactly is childbirth so risky for humans? And is there anything we can do to reduce death rates during childbirth?