Midwifery is an ancient art, statues of midwives attending birth date back at least 8000 years and Hathor is frequently portrayed in a midwifery role (Mayes Midwifery).
"She was known as the mother of god and the daughter of god, the eye of god, the creatrix of the rays of the sun, the embodiment of the circular essence of life. She was the Lady of the Limit or the one who spreads to the edge of the universe and the Lady of the West who welcomed souls to the afterlife. She was the goddess of fertility and assisted women in childbirth. She was Hathor the Celestial Cow whose legs formed the pillars of the sky and the Milky Way ran across her belly. It is believed that the worship of Hathor dates to pre-dynastic times and in fact she may represent many of the earlier original female deities such as Bat, Sekhmet and others all combined into one figure. Female deities gradually became less important as complex agrarian society became predominate and the emergence of the ever increasing ownership of both goods and land exalted the male gods who represented power through physical strength. Male domination of society pushed the sacred feminine aside and began the systematic removal of the sacred feminine from virtually every religion on earth. When the gods are no longer female then human females have less power or no power, they are second to the male who is in the image of the divine but it was not always this way, once there was balance and many of the earliest deities were seen as having a dualistic nature embodying both the masculine and the feminine. The worship of Hathor paints a vivid picture of this type of transition, from the temple of the greatest god, the mother of all to the modern perception of a cult of tattooed prostitutes. Hathor was one of the most important gods in early Egypt and she remained important up until the middle kingdom when the significance of the female gods waned and with it the role of women in the priesthood. Hathors temple may have been one of the few that allowed women to hold equal positions as men but by the new kingdom only men seem to hold the title of priest and women are reduced to the role of shemayet or musicians.
As persons of legitimate power in their own right and consider their sexuality as the manifestation of fertility and the instrument of new life then they are Hathors representatives on earth guiding and protecting women through the very dangerous process of childbirth, a process that requires both spiritual and medical assistance. The act of sex, pregnancy and childbirth are three parts of an inseparable cycle and the last part of the cycle, childbirth, was for ancient women a dance with death that quite often left them on the trip to the afterlife. The production of children is essential for the success of all cultures and the priestesses of Hathor may have been there to protect and assist women in this dangerous process. Amunet’s tattoos were located on her superior pubic region covering the lower part of her abdomen, on her mid frontal torso and directly inferior to her right breast. She also has tattoos superior to her elbow joint and on her left shoulder as well as on her thighs. Most of these tattoos are in the form of dashes, and dots and some form concentric circles on her abdomen. I think it is important to note that the more ‘carnal’ tattoos as they have been called do not draw attention to the genitalia but instead cover the reproductive organs."