Tag Archives: Birth Pregnancy and Obstetrics

Seventeenth century obstetric illustrations

Around the middle of seventeenth century man-midwifes or accoucheurs began to revolutionize the practice of obstetrics by reforming education, introducing scientific principles, and developing safe rules for the conduct of the delivery and the use of the forceps. Foremost among this new brand of practitioners were two Scotsmen, William Smellie and his one-time student William […]

Enough

Laura Loertscher Portland, Oregon, United States   Photograph of author (Laura Loertscher) and her son. Personal photograph taken by author’s husband, Jesus Moreno, and submitted with his permission. The last food you ever ate was a cup of orange sherbet from the nurses’ station. I saw no reason to make you NPO. After all, you […]

Bob Edwards and the perils of publicity

James Owen Drife Leeds, United Kingdom   Edwards (seated, left) and Steptoe brief the press at Oldham General Hospital after the birth of Louise Brown. A license to publish in Hektoen International has been obtained from Press Association Photos Limited, London. The physiologist Robert Edwards began thinking about human in-vitro fertilization (IVF) in the 1950s and […]

A history of breastfeeding and wet nurses

Nursan Cinar Sumeyra Topal Sinem Yalnizoglu Caka Sakarya, Turkey   The bond established with the milk never breaks off even if years passed. Wet nurse’s own son (at left) and milk son. Photo by Sümeyra Topal. Breastfeeding has been vital to life since the beginning of humanity. For infants who are unable to get this unique […]

“Sara, Bill, Kristine, … you’re pregnant!” Gestational surrogacy, biomedicalized bodies and reconceptualizations of motherhood

Eva-Sabine Zehelein Frankfurt, Germany   The day we left the hospital, a therapist from the perinatal loss department presented us with two death certificates and asked us if we wanted the bodies for a burial. . . . We were being taken out the back like the trash, sparing those families who came to the […]

When angels sing

Mary Sommers Chicago, Illinois, United States Photography by Matthew Paulson   All living things have a natural urge to sing. Humans and other mammals, birds, insects, and even the great, extinct woolly mammoth sing special songs to call their children home. Though singing is universal, many people feel uncomfortable singing, as if we’ll be judged […]

Miracle on Kedvale

Mary Sommers Chicago, Illinois, United States   Photography by Oplotnik Elizabeth enraged her family by falling in love—the wrong thing to do, as far as they were concerned, for a poor girl from a broken home in a small town in Mexico. During a secret courtship, she became pregnant. Elizabeth’s pregnancy added another burden to […]

When did you last let your heart decide?

Sukanya Sam Chennai, India This woman in labor is not my patient. But the nurses worriedly tell me that the baby’s heartbeat could not be localized. Both handheld Doppler machines had broken down in the labor room unit of our small tertiary hospital. I was the resident on duty. I use the Pinard’s stethoscope, my […]

Cultural warfare: investigating childbirth practices in “Doctor Zhivago”

Stephanie S. Colello New York, United States   Caption: “Stalin’s tenderness to our future children shines!” I was fortunate to spend a year studying the transformation of Russian childbirth practices through the lens of Russian literature—an endeavor that at first glance may seem farfetched. However, I quickly realized that no birth scene is written as […]

Leaders in the development of Western obstetric practice

Sara Buck   The history of obstetrics contains too many notable figures to simply select six key leaders in its development. However, as Laura Kaplan notes in “Changes in Childbirth in the US,” featured in the current issue, modern obstetrics has been greatly influenced by the invention and modernization of the forceps (Chamberlen and Smellie), […]