Tag Archives: childbirth

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). Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) 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 […]

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 […]

Labor of love

Mary Oak Seattle, Washington, USA   “Newborn and Mama” Photo by Susan Strohm. 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 […]

The missing chapter in our curriculum

Alexandra Adams Hershey, Pennsylvania   A maternity nurse examines a pregnant patient at a rural community health center in northern Uganda. Photo by Alexandra Adams. The rural village of Paimol in northern Uganda, located four hours away from the nearest hospital.  Photo by Alexandra Adams.   A fourteen-year-old girl, large with child, presented to her community health […]

Forceps: a brief history

Sara Buck “He’s a little old man very pale of complexion / Into many things makes a narrow inspection / His head’s very long and his hand’s very small” are the mysterious lines that open an anonymous 17th century English poem.1 Often presumed to refer to Hugh Chamberlen the Elder—the last of the famous Huguenot […]

Birth trays in the Italian Renaissance

Rachel Baker   Recurring outbreaks of plague and their resulting demographic catastrophes largely contributed to the Renaissance emphasis on family and procreation. After the initial epidemic in 1348, the plague returned more than a dozen times over the next two centuries. Childbirth was seen as a vital measure to combat plague’s devastation, and a woman’s […]

On a miraculous birth

 Frank Gonzalez-Crussi Chicago, Illinois, United States For all the odes that sing the advent of a new life, childbirth is a bloody, messy affair. Those of us who, by reason of our trade, observed it at close range know that it is also a scission, a brutal separation of two beings, during which life issues […]

A letter from George Boole and Victorian attitudes towards pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding

C. Anthony Ryan Desmond MacHale Yvonne Cohen Cork, Ireland   George Boole In 2015, two cities celebrated the 200th anniversary of George Boole’s birth: the City of Lincoln, England where he was born, and Cork City, Ireland, where he died and was buried. Boole was a professor of mathematics at what was then Queen’s College, […]