Medieval Lives is a BBC documentary series in which historian and author Helen Castor explores how the people of the Middle Ages handled the most fundamental moments of transition in life - birth, marriage and death.
For a medieval woman approaching the moment of labour and birth, there were no antiseptics to ward off infection or anaesthetics to deal with pain. Ms Castor reveals how this was one of the most dangerous moments a medieval woman would ever encounter, with some aristocratic and royal women giving birth as young as 13. Birth took place in an all-female environment and the male world of medicine was little help to a woman in confinement. It was believed that the pains of labour were the penalty for the original sin of humankind - so, to get through them, a pregnant woman needed the help of the saints and the blessing of God himself.