Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Category: Birth Pregnancy & Obstetrics

  • Justine Siegemund, opening doorways to midwifery

    Mariel TishmaChicago, Illinois, United States 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 beyond, and published an obstetric manual which became one of the most popular midwifery books of its time. Details on her…

  • A brief life

    Andrea Eisenberg Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, United States 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 did he swim peacefully, oblivious…

  • Traditional obstetrics in Isaan, Thailand

    Khwan PhusrisomDurham, United Kingdom Traditional midwifery and the culture of birth in Isaan, Northeast Thailand, may hold lessons for the prevention of obstetric complications. Since traditional midwifery has been declining for the past two decades,1,2 in 2020 I interviewed elders in my home village in the Yang Talat district in order to preserve their rapidly…

  • The dream of the uterus

    F. Gonzalez-Crussi Chicago, Illinois, United States More than one-half century ago, it was my duty to examine and describe, day in and day out, the bodily parts that surgeons removed at the hospital where I worked. Surely this peculiar daily routine must have incited the flights of fancy that I took then, and which I recount…

  • 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-CrussiChicago, Illinois, United States 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 maintaining a sharp distant vision. Just so the elderly recollect in painstaking detail what happened to them fifty or sixty years ago, yet…

  • 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 UdomPort 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 is a…

  • Labor of love

    Mary OakSeattle, Washington, USA Each week my elderly father and I watch babies being born. In the silver-shadowed flickers of a television, we sit as we often did in my childhood. Now in the spectral shade of his decelerated years, I care for him. He spends a lot of time watching TV. I join him…

  • Two hearts beating: the history and benefits of “Kangaroo Care”

    Nursan CinarHamide ZenginSakarya, Turkey The rate of preterm birth is between 5 and 18% worldwide. Prematurity is the most important cause of neonatal mortality and morbidity, especially in developing countries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the neonatal mortality rate is 20% worldwide.1 Having a premature baby is a source of anxiety and stress…