Aztec Pregnancy: Archaeological and Cultural Foundations for Motherhood and Childbearing in Ancient Mesoamerica

  • David A. Schwartz
Part of the Global Maternal and Child Health book series (GMCH)


Aztec society had a complex and well-organized set of belief systems and rituals that surrounded pregnancy and childbirth. Their religion included a pantheon of deities—Tlazolteotl, Chalchiuhtlicue, Cihuacoatl, Coatlicue, Tzitzimitl, and the Cihuateteo—who played a role in maternity, midwifery, and childbirth. As a result of the Franciscan friar and pioneering ethnographer Bernardino de Sahagún and his corpus magnum Historia general de las cosas de nueva España, a great deal of firsthand information is known about how Aztec society viewed pregnancy and childbirth. This chapter reviews historical information regarding reproduction in Aztec society, including the role of the midwife, or tlamatlquiticitl, as well as examining birth ceremonies and rituals and the occurrence of maternal complications and death.


Indigenous women Maternal health Archaeology Ethnology Central America Nahua Mexico Aztec ritual Aztec Maternal death Midwife Aztec goddess Tlazolteotl Chalchiuhtlicue Cihuacoatl Tlamatlquiticitl Tonalamatl Codex Aztec childbearing Bernardino de Sahagún 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • David A. Schwartz
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Pathology, Medical College of GeorgiaAugusta UniversityAugustaUSA

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