As I began to read Get Me Out- A History of Childbirth I was completely struck and astonished by the logic behind how to have a baby and the processes and tools used to do so.
What struck me so much was the fact that men were the ones who wrote about childbirth. Seeing, hearing and thinking about how childbirth remedies have changed since the beginning of time. According to the book in chapter one it says that God told Eve, “I greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children.” Then she goes on to say that “Women deserved pain.” Being a young women in modern day society and as a feminist, I strongly disagree with that statement, however, times were different when everyone wore jandals.
It is hard to think that if you asked to reduce the pain in child labor, you were frowned up. Now we have different types of medication and tools to ease the pain of childbirth. Considering that I don’t know much about the medicines used in modern day labor I looked it up.When I looked at How Childbirth Has Changed and got a better understanding I learned that the pain relief back in the midevial was based upon the knowledge and experience of your midwife. In the early 1800s a concept called the “Twilight Sleep” was introduced to only the wealthy women and what it did was relieve pain and it caused the woman to pretty much forget everything that happened in childbirth. I also learned that babies who were born to heavily medicated mothers were less likely to live.
In chapter 2 “Men with Tools- Forceps Use from 1600s to 1880s” there is a lot of talk about the Chamberlen family, a family of doctors who kept a medical secret that was passed down from generation to generation. The secret was tool used to spare the lives of both the mother and child. This was a huge discovery considering the fact that during childbirth, either the mother or the child died. This tool they used was called Forceps and it looked like this:
In the book, the author also describe other tools used during childbirth before forceps were a thing. As she talked about them, I couldn’t help but flinch at the thought of such things. She explains that, “…the Japanese used a contraption made of nets and whale bone to hook a baby logged in the vagina. The French had a poker-like instrument that stabbed a hole in the baby’s head and dragged it out” (pg.19). Now, because of modern day technology and medicine, women have the option of having a natural birth without medication, or a birth with medication. We also do not have medieval torture weapons used to pull babies out of the womb. Thank God for that!
I didn’t realize that the “secret tool” the Chamberlens used was so frightening! I can see why women may have wanted to have natural childbirth, because I certainly wouldn’t want any child’s head to be poked, prodded, or squeezed on their first day out of the womb. It’s also true that the risks were also much greater than for the child or mother to die during birth. There were many diseases that couldn’t be helped, and everyone was working so hard at avoiding pain that they didn’t realize that it might kill the baby anyway. However, it might be a good thing that these strange contraptions were created when they did, because they eventually made way for less harmful ways of giving birth. Thanks for writing such a great post! It makes me grateful for the experienced doctors/better technology of today!
I agree with Enalisa and Izzy, I would not want my child to be taken out by a tool made from 2 large spoons. I also imagine that I would use medicine to relieve the pain in child birth but I can’t imagine being punished for it. Overall I feel as though we have learned from our mistakes from twilight sleep to tools and we will only continue to do so.
Your blog post was very informative! I really enjoyed reading. It made me think about child birth in a whole different light. I also agree with the previous comments by Izzy and Elissa. It would be quite uncomfortable if I had gotten pulled out of my mother’s womb by using forceps. I am really glad the methods used during child birth has progressed because many babies would have died during their journey from the womb to the world if it hadn’t. -Sierra G.