The Aymara People of the Andes

received_349168949031248-01.jpegThe Aymara people are Native American (First Nations) culture living in the Andes mountains around the borders of where present-day Peru, Chile, and Bolivia meet. The Aymara are considered one of the oldest extant ethnic groups of the High Andes, predating the Inca civilization by thousands of years. The ancestors of today’s Aymara built the highest urban center in the world, Tiwanaku, reaching it’s highest populations between 500-1000 c.e.(the header image from this post are the “stone peoples” of Tiwanaku). However, during the height of Inca power and then during the colonial era, the Aymara were forcibly resettled to their present area. Continue reading

Cold Climates: The Inuit Amauti

Well, I was enjoying the lovely fall colors, the warm days and crisp nights– and then that jerk Winter crept up and put an ice cube down my shirt. So, while I huddle here, fingers frozen, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how traditional artic cultures deal with infant carrying in the freezing temperatures. There seem to be two main approaches: a soft carrier that shares body heat between child and caregiver which we’ll cover in this post; and a hard carrier that creates a micro-climate for the baby that I will cover in a future post. Continue reading

The Myth of Childbearing Hips | Squished Pt 2 |

The phrase “childbearing hips”, besides being extremely cringey in any context, is a misnomer. It’s a byproduct of the kind of thinking that went into the Obstetrical Dilemma: in order to give birth women traded in bipedal efficiency for wider hips. It’s a hypothesis that was and is widely assumed to be true. But you know what they say about making assumptions? … As it turns out, pelvic width has nothing to do with bipedal efficiency, nor is it a constraint for fetal head growth or childbirth. Continue reading

What is the Obstetrical Dilemma? |Squished Pt 1|

In western culture, there is a long tradition of women suffering through labor… something about an apple? Throughout the history of obstetrics, theories have been tossed about to explain humanity’s apparently unique difficulties in childbirth. One of the more recent is the Obstetrical Dilemma which posits that the female pelvis is too narrow to give birth to human babies (without a lot of professional, technical intervention, and even then… ) but too wide (wider, on average, than a male pelvis) to be efficient.

Racist Roots with a side of Misogyny

The OD hypothesis came into being around the same time that hospital birth was becoming the norm in the United States. In 1949, Aldoph H. Schultz, from the John Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland published a paper titled Sex Differences in the Pelves of Primates about the pelvic measurements of a variety male and female cadavers from a selection of primate species. Among these non-human primate species are chimpanzees, gorillas, and negroes.

Yes, you read that correctly. And if you aren’t horrified, I am not sure I want you reading my blog. 


Schultz believed that black people represented a different species of primate, describing their pelvic measurements as more animalistic than whites, as a means of explaining why they had easier births. His research was used to justify the lack of medical care available to pregnant black women across the U.S. but even more so in the Jim Crow south. Continue reading

Does Babywearing Really Reduce Crying?

In 1986, a study was published concluding that three hours of “supplemental” carrying reduced crying in newborns. The results sound impressive: infants in the supplemental carrying group cried 43% less overall and 51% less during the evening hours than infants who were not given supplemental carrying. Contemporary babywearers often share these statistics to encourage people to try using infant carriers.

But is that really accurate? What does the article really say? What has subsequent research shown? Why is crying such a big deal? If babywearing doesn’t reduce crying, is it worth it to try it? Continue reading