After reading through the first few sections of Get Me Out by Randi Hutter Epstien, there is one thing I can say for certain: I, or any other women for that matter, would not want to become pregnant in any other time period other than this modern era. To be completely honest I’m not sure I would want to give birth at any point in time, but the quite frankly gruesome descriptions of birthing procedures in antiquity and the medieval era completely astonished me. To think, some of these horrifying methods that used birthing tools that could be mistaken for torture devices, if shown out of context, used to be considered normal and good practice. The thought goes against ever moral and legal law that we have.
One thing in particular that disturbed me was the standard procedure and consequences when a baby got stuck while being delivered. As I read the line, “Babies stuck in the birth canal were dragged out by the doctor, often in pieces” (19) that described the frequent outcome of this complication I couldn’t help but
think about the new addition to my own family. Recently, a cousin of mine gave birth to twins, and in addition to them being a month premature, they also became stuck in the birth canal while being delivered, resulting in an emergency C-section. It got me thinking about how, like Nishi P mentioned a few days ago, if my cousin’s babies were not delivered safely, if they were delivered in more than one piece, a huge lawsuit would follow, and likely severe consequences against the hospital and doctors involved. However, if my cousin was in the same situation just a few centuries back, such a delivery might be considered normal. To me, this standard of safety is the largest change in the birthing process that I’ve noticed using the information that I’ve discovered in this book and my own observations about modern healthcare.
However, that is far from the only idea that’s changed over the history of healthcare, and it definitely isn’t the one that surprised me the most. What did surprise me was how people’s opinion on medical professionals evolved over the years (but
don’t get me started on how little someone had to achieve to earn that title). Right now, surgeons and doctors are some of the most respected professions, the dream that every overachieving parent has for their child. Unfortunately, this was not always the case, as can be seen in J. Marion Sims’ father’s opinion on the career: “This is the profession for which I have the uttermost contempt. There is no science in it. There is no honor to be achieved in it, no reputation to be made.” (37) I suppose we should be glad that this is no longer the popular opinion, because if it was we might still be anticipating our babies one piece at a time.
I’ve already learned a lot just in the few beginning chapters of Get Me Out, but most importantly I’ve learned that I should be extremely that my mother gave birth to me after the trends changed and delivery became much safer, because if she hadn’t, I might’ve had a chance to write this, or do anything else for that matter.