I’ve recently been reading Get Me Out by Randi Epstein. While I’ve been reading this book I have learned how (mostly men) and women have contributed to progress in obstetrics .
In the earlier centuries men were the only ones who could be physicians and obstetrician’s. In result to this men wrote all the pregnancy guides and techniques even though they initially knew nothing about childbirth due to the fact the midwives would usually deliver the babies. Those books and techniques consisted of Soranus Gynaecology, Hippocrates homemade pregnancy test, and Dr. Eucharis Rosslin’s book The Rose Garden .Most of these techniques and books were filled with information we now know to be untrue but there were a few men who were on to something. One group of men in particular that changed obstetrics was The Chamberlen family.
(Older Peter Chamberlen)
The Chamberlen family created and hid a device to help pull babies out of the birth canal during a difficult delivery, this device was called the Chamberlen Forceps. The forceps were passed down for generations and kept in secret due to the family only wanting to operate for the wealthy. And from what I’ve read online and learned in the book, no one really knows exactly which Chamberlen created the Forceps but many people think that it was the oldest son, Peter Chamberlen. Even though they tried extremely hard to hide their medical secret from the rest of the world eventually the forceps were found in 1813 and soon were released fr everyone to see.
“What they found was that these highly secretive baby clamps looked like two soup ladles attached with a spring”-page 28
When everyone was able to see the instruments a controversy broke out between midwives and obstetricians. This controversy caused people to question whether or not the devices were safe or whether the old traditional ways were best. Over the years the debate began to die down and so did the interest in forceps.Now in the present forceps still exist but they aren’t used that much when a woman has a difficult birth. Even though forceps aren’t used that much now and days the original chamberlen forceps did affected the world of obstetrics by providing an alternative option in childbirth back in the 16th century and today. It also was a kick starter for more improved inventions to come in the future.
“The Chamberlens introduced their highly touted secret tool more than 400 years ago.It brought fame and fortune. They certainly exemplified the world of fiery competitive medicine”- Catherine M. Scholten quote in Get me out on page 34
I found it very ironic that men were writing the books about labor and pregnant women. They sounded so assured of themselves and so confident in their writing but today we can discredit all the myths and untrue facts. Men (doctors and obstetricians) back then were so concerned with modesty and did not want to look at any woman’s private parts so they couldn’t really give reliable information about anatomy and other things part of labor. I bet midwives probably knew more about the pregnant woman’s parts because they were women, but the reason they weren’t held to a standard of men was because they lacked a title (a diploma). The Chemberlen family were very protective of their invention because it would bring them fortune, I think they were correct to protect it from people but they did it because of the money. I think their contraption (the forceps) was very useful 100ths of years ago, but nowadays with new exciting technology and many more methods of birthing the forceps have fallen into the shadows. -Celeste O.
I really liked your reflection and how detailed it was. It seemed to go righ to what you wanted to talk about, and kept me interested. No extra words, nothing too boring or confusing. I actually wanted to ask about what you thought about Chamberlens hiding their invention. Should they have given it to the world sooner to prevent deaths, or was their initial decision wise? What about the views that philosophers like Galen and Aristotle had on women and their physiology? -Bunmi O.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post Bumi. First off I would like to inform you that I don’t agree with the way certain philosophers viewed women but in that time period women weren’t valued as highly as they are now.I have also thought about my feelings on The Chamberlens hiding the forceps and I have come to the conclusion that it would have been better if they hadn’t hidden them in the first place. I believe that by hiding the forceps the Chamberlens also some what interfered with the growth of obstetrics technology. If they had opend up the invention to the public instead of hidding it, then doctors could have produced ideas for better or more efficent versions of the forceps earlier.