One of the greatest dramas in the world of living things is that which takes place in pregnancy and birth. Pregnancy forms a bond between mother and offspring that, in humans at least, lasts throughout life. Humans and many other animals are viviparous, meaning that offspring develop inside the mother's body and are delivered live. By contrast, birds and some other varieties of animal are oviparous, meaning that they deliver offspring in eggs that must develop further before hatching. In the modern world, human females experience birth in several ways—vaginal or cesarean, with anesthetics and without, at home or in a hospital—but just a few hundred years ago, there was little variety in an experience that was almost always painful and dangerous.

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