Puerperal infection also known as Childbed fever is a bacterial infection in a female’s reproductive system. Signs of the infection include a fever, abdominal pain, and chills. Get Me Out explains that in the early 1800’s this was a constant threat to woman in labor. It could go either way for pregnant women, surviving the illness or dying. As the book explains “there was no way to know who was going to catch the illness, who would survive, and who would go from delivery room to morgue.”(Pg.53).
Doctors would blame rotten breast milk, anxiety, and angry thoughts for the deaths due to this illness. But that was before bacteria was discovered “sometimes doctors went from autopsies to delivery, back and forth-death to birth, birth to death, chauffeuring germs with them.”(Pg.54). While the doctors went on trying to find the cause to the deaths, they didn’t know that they were making it worse by spreading the infection. As I explained before bacteria had not been discovered in that time period but the book explains that a few scientists were beginning to understand what was going on, “They did not know what was spreading but had a hunch something awful was passing from one sick mother to the next.”. Some of the scientists decided to actually try and prevent whatever was going on “Charles White made his students wash their hands to prevent puerperal fever.”(Pg.55).
Later on Dr.Ignac Semmelweis came along. He forced his colleagues to ‘scrub with chlorine’ to prevent the infection from passing on. The reason to why he felt the need to be very clean was because previously his mentor had died while examining the body of a woman that had died during childbirth, the book explains “Professor Jakob Kolletschka, died after cutting himself during an autopsy of a woman who died in childbirth.” then afterwards Semmelweis performed an autopsy on Professor Jakob Kolletschka and he saw that “Kolletschka’s corpse resembled the pus-filled bodies of dead maternity patients.”(Pg.56). During the time that Semmelweis made his colleagues have a cleaner environment the “maternal mortality plummeted from 20 percent to 1.3 percent” this goes to show how cleanliness makes up a big part of childbirth.
In conclusion, childbed fever is a bacterial infection that if not treated could be deadly to a mother in labor. The environment in which a mother gives birth in is very important, hygiene is as well by that I mean the tools that are taking place during certain procedures. A clean environment equals a healthy mother and child.