Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Category: Birth Pregnancy & Obstetrics

  • Ian Donald: Ultrasound pioneer

    Arpan K. BanerjeeSolihull, England Ian Donald was born in Liskeard, Cornwall, UK in 1910 of Scottish ancestry. His father was a general practitioner. He was educated in Scotland at Fettes College and spent a brief period in South Africa from 1925 to 1930, where he studied for a BA degree in Cape Town, before entering…

  • Credé’s maneuver

    Avi OhryTel Aviv, Israel Carl Siegmund Franz Credé (1819–1892) was a German gynecologist and obstetrician born in Berlin. In 1852, he became director of the Berlin School of Midwives and head of the maternity division of the Berlin Charité Hospital. Later, he moved to Leipzig. Credé is known for the Credé maneuver, a technique to…

  • The history of fertility preservation in young people with cancer

    Terrence Stephenson London, England   Professor Hamish Wallace. Portrait by Harriet Selka, a former patient and childhood cancer survivor, 2022. Private collection. A whole cohort of cancer survivors owe both their lives and the conception of their children to a group of pediatric oncologists and colleagues from many disciplines spanning medicine, science, and the humanities.…

  • A cesarean section in Uganda in 1879

    Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Successful Cesarean section performed by indigenous healers in Kahura, Uganda as observed by R.W. Felkin. 1879. Via Wikimedia.  “A strange story indeed, almost too good to be true.”1   Until the end of the nineteenth century, a cesarean section to deliver an infant was considered to be an operation with…

  • Galactagogues in postpartum rituals

    Puja PersaudTrue Blue, Grenada, West Indies Having a baby demands drastic changes in lifestyle, eating habits, and sleeping patterns. Many cultures across the world practice postpartum rituals that “allow the mother to be ‘mothered’,” and help to “facilitate the transition into motherhood.”1 For generations, the Indian descendants residing in Guyana of South America have helped…

  • Posthumous reproduction

    Ian Cooke Sheffield, England   Cryopreserved sperm being removed from liquid nitrogen for thawing prior to use. Photo courtesy of Dr. M.J. Tomlinson. Family structures ensure that one’s genes are passed down through generations, but that does not always go according to plan. The opportunity may not arise because childhood or adolescent disease, notably cancer…

  • 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…