Tag Archives: Fall 2012

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), […]

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 […]

Gynecology and obstetrics

Matko Marusic Croatia This essay is reprinted from Medicine from Inside (Medicina iznutra) by Matko Marusic, 2006, and translated from Croatian into English by Dr. Mario Malicki.   A mountain farmer’s voice reached me from the window of the student hall: “We cannot play on Saturday.” I could not believe it! I had arranged for […]

Emotional medicine

Lauren Fore Dominica, West Indies   Photography by Cristian Bernal Over the past several months, I have come to the realization that when my role of medical student switches to patient, most of my rational medical knowledge goes out the window. Last month, my husband and I found out that we were expecting our first […]

Changes in childbirth in the United States: 1750–1950

Laura Kaplan New York, New York, United States   American pioneer birth scene, 1887 Gustave Joseph Witkowski Wood print From Histoire des accouchements chez tous les peuples For most of American history, pregnancy, labor and delivery, and post-partum have been dangerous periods for mother and child. However, starting slowly in the late 18th century and […]

A royal pregnancy gone wrong

George Dunea   Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales, ca. 1817 George Dawe 54.7” x 42.9” Perhaps one of the most famous pregnancies gone wrong was that of Princess Charlotte, the granddaughter of King George III and in line to someday succeed to the throne of England. Brought up in a royal household wreaked by dissension, […]

Divine birth: The birth of Santa Claus

Birth of Saint Nicolas of Bari, ca. 1430 Pietro di Giovanni d’ Ambrogio Tempera and gold on panel Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland San Nicola, or Saint Nicolas of Bari, is the Patron Saint of Bari, Italy. Born during the third century in what is now Turkey, he came from a wealthy family and used his money […]

Divine birth: The birth of Moses

 Moses was born in the year 2377 after the creation of the world. He was born circumcised, and was able to walk immediately after his birth; but according to another story he was circumcised on the eighth day after his birth. A peculiar and glorious light filled the entire house at his birth, indicating that […]

Divine birth: Pegasus, born from Medusa’s blood

 Pegasus, the divine, winged white horse, was the offspring of the god Poseidon and the gorgon Medusa. He was born from Medusa’s blood after she was beheaded by Perseus, arising from her head or from the blood that had seeped into the earth. Because he created the spring of Hippocrene, held sacred by the Muses, […]