February 23, 2010

The History of Childbirth

Since I'm waiting to O and have little to report on the TTC front, I'm dedicating today's post to the many fun facts I learned after listening to a radio show that interviewed the author of a new book about the history of childbirth.

Get Me Out author Randi Hutter Epstein, PhD, is a mom herself, and was inspired to research this topic after the varying experiences she had in her own birth experiences.

Here are some fun facts I learned:
  • In the early 1900s, one doctor predicted that "civilized women" (yup, that's us) would someday soon lack the energy required to deliver babies vaginally, and C-sections would become more common.
  • The word "Gossips" comes from the women who attended the births of friends and relatives to offer female support. First, they were referred to as "God's Siblings" for the role they played in the difficult childbirth process. This was shortened to "God's Sibs" and ultimately to "Gossips".
  • Monks were at one time in history the most respected advisers on fertility matters. Women turned to their writings for recommendations regarding the type of sex most likely to result in conception, the consumption of alcohol during TTC and pregnancy, and more. And these are guys that took vows of celibacy themselves!
  • On the recommendation of one folk healer, 16th-century French queen Catherine de Medici drank mare's urine and soaked in cow manure in order to get pregnant
  • The inventors of the first forceps kept their creation a secret to protect their business. Doctors would often cover a woman's face when forceps were being used just in case she'd eventually become a leak and tell others about their "miraculous contraption".
  • The doctor who is credited as solving the problem of fistula in the developed world by stitching women after birth was actually an American slave owner who honed his craft by practicing on the dozens of black female slaves he bought for this purpose. And yes, without anesthetic.
I might check out the book, maybe after I actually become pregnant. I'm trying to keep the obsession at a minimum these days, since the waiting game is so tough. But I do find it comforting to hear these assorted facts and stories, and know that for all the history of mankind, women before us have been wrapped up in the great mystery of getting pregnant, staying pregnant, and giving birth. Readers, we are not alone!


C said...

That seems like a very interesting book, thanks for sharing!

Flora Bud said...

Interesting! I think once we finally get our BFP we should read it :)

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