Birth Pregnancy & Obstetrics - Hektoen International

Dr. Doyen separates conjoined twins in 1902

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Xiphopagus sisters “Radica” and “Doodica” of India before surgical intervention by Eugène Doyen, February 9, 1902. Filmed by Clément-Maurice. From Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine by George M. Gould and Walter L. Pyle. Via French Wikipedia. Public domain. “They were so close to each other that they preferred death to […]

Miscarriage: a medical student in a rural clinic, Central America, 1977

Paul Rousseau Charleston, South Carolina, United States   A small town in Honduras. Photo by kristin klein on Flickr. CC BY 2.0. Elena sits perched on a gurney with claret-stained thighs. She has just miscarried in the clinic’s lavatory. She inquires of the gender of the fetus, and hands twitching and heart flapping, I blurt, […]

Justine Siegemund, opening doorways to midwifery

Mariel Tishma Chicago, Illinois, United States   Portrait of Justine Siegemund by Georg Paul Busch. 1690-1756 (circa). © The Trustees of the British Museum CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 In the mid-1600s, midwife Justine Siegemund was a household name for mothers in Silesia, part of modern-day Poland. She served patients of every class in Legnica, in Berlin, and […]

A brief life

Andrea Eisenberg  Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, United States   Photo by Luis Galvez on Unsplash  I felt his legs wiggling in the sac of warm fluid surrounding him. His body was so tiny, his kicks were like a feather passing across my fingers. But his warm, dark world was about to slip away. Did he already sense it? Or […]

Traditional obstetrics in Isaan, Thailand

Khwan Phusrisom Durham, United Kingdom   Fig 1. The house in which I was born. Births were in a living room, far left. The natal hearth was under the roofed veranda. Sketch by author, ©. May be reproduced for non-commercial purpose Traditional midwifery and the culture of birth in Isaan, Northeast Thailand, may hold lessons for the prevention […]

The dream of the uterus

F. Gonzalez-Crussi  Chicago, Illinois, United States   Front page of the book that started the debate on “the thinking uterus” at the University of Bologna: Genial days of the dialectic of women, reduced to its true principle, etc. Naples, 1763. More than one-half century ago, it was my duty to examine and describe, day in […]

A physician and a pregnant patient

A very pregnant young woman, not feeling her best, is sitting with a doctor in consultation. Another woman in the background is holding a container full of urine that the doctor will examine. But presumably the doctor has already determined what ails the patient, for he is writing a prescription. The ubiquitous chamber pot is […]

A birth remembered

F. Gonzalez-Crussi Chicago, Illinois, United States   Figure 1. The Birth of Benjamin and the Death of Rachel, by Francesco Furini (1600 or 1603–1646). Wellcome Collection. Public domain. Memory is to old age as presbyopia (far-sightedness) is to eyesight. Presbyopia makes you lose the ability to see clearly at a normal near working distance while […]

James Simpson, who made childbirth painless

A large jolly man with broad shoulders, large hands, blue eyes, and a charismatic personality, James Young Simpson was said to have been the most popular man in Edinburgh since the death of Sir Walter Scott.1 Born in 1811 at Bathgate, he was the seventh son of a village baker in a poor family housed in […]

Infertility in Nigeria and the race for parenthood

Princewill Udom Port Harcourt, Nigeria   Infertility is a growing problem in Nigeria. In one study, researchers found that female gender-related causes accounted for 42.9% of infertility, in contrast to male causes, which were about half that number.1 Common causes are broadly categorized into genetic, physiological, endocrine, and lifestyle factors. One consequence of this problem […]