The Cihuateteo or Divine Women were the spirits of women who died in childbirth.
For the Aztecs, childbirth was considered a form of battle, and its victims were honored as fallen warriors. For that, the physical remains of the women who died giving birth were given ceremonial burials, as they were thought to strengthen soldiers in battle, while their spirits became the much-feared Cihuateteo (or Cihuatéotl), an elemental force that accompanied the setting sun in the west.
The Cihuateteo were capable of taken physical form and often haunted crossroads at night, stealing children and causing sicknesses, especially seizures and madness, and seducing men to sexual misbehavior.
They were more likely to appear at the beginning day of the five trecena (i.e., a trecena is a 13-day period used in pre-Columbian Mesoamerican calendars), and during their descend to the earth, they likely caused unrest and mischief.
However dangerous, the Cihuateteo were also associated with Cihuacoatl (the fertility goddess), were sometimes considered envoys of Mictlan, the world of the dead, and were faitful servants of the Aztec moon deities Tezcatlipoca and Tlazolteotl.
Doyle, D. (2007). Aztec and Mayan Mythology. Yale-New Haven Teacher’s Institute. 2 Feb. 2007.