As I read Get Me Out by Randi Hutter Epstein, M.D. I am baffled at the beliefs of the earliest doctors back when pregnancy was uncharted territory. Women had been having babies for centuries before doctors decided to take hold and figure out how babies became babies and the confusing reproductive organs of a woman. I obviously do not blame them for their lack of knowledge, they had to start somewhere in order to better the lives of both the mother and child. Some of their theorys seem crazy such as:
“During pregnancy the menstrual blood flowed upward and turned into breast milk.” (10)
This is one of the things doctors believed during the 11th century. It is something that, today, would sound crazy. But, back then it could’ve made sense since a woman stops her period during her pregnancy and where else but the breast is that blood supposed to go?some of their theories, however, make more sense in relation to today. Especially if you are as clueless about pregnancy as me.
“It often happens that a woman conceive if she is in a bath where a man has ejaculated because the vulva strongly attracts the sperm… This has been attested to by experience.” (11)
When I first read this I thought it was crazy but as I thought about it I began to wonder: why not? I had to research and I discovered from americanpregnancy.org that it is only a myth and sperm are very sensitive to temperature and so if a woman is in a warm bath than, chances are, it will die within a few minutes at most, the warmer the water, the lesser the chances of survival.
In addition to the misconceptions of giving birth, I learned about all of the tools and procedures that were developed in order to acheive a safer labor. One of these tools was the Forceps. They were developed by the Chamberlen family back in the 1600’s but kept a secret for many years in order for the Chamberlen family to make the most profit off of them. The use of forceps in labor greatly benefitted women and their children because they could be used to manouver the baby when it was stuck and help get it out in gentler way than using just hands.
The development of the forceps affected the woman in labor by giving them a better chance of survival. Another advancement in medicine was when Dr. Semmelweis proposed that the reason so many women were dying after childbirth was because the doctors were not cleaning their hands well enough and were bringing the illness to the women. At this time,
“America was not the most dangerous place in the world [for childbirth], but it was far more dangerous than many other industrialized countries. In a tally of maternal mortality rates including 20 nations, America scored dead last.” (60)
This quote is hard to imagine because of how far we have come in terms of morality rates and I look forward to continuing to read more about the advancement of childbirth.