Childbirth before the Advances of Modern Medicine


历史记载 1


Historical illustrations of birth. (Left) Late middle ages: A Cesarian section.  (Right) 18th century: Midwife helping in the delivery.


Historical Notes 1

Childbirth before the Advances of Modern Medicine
Even in early modern times, women were still deliberately kept ignorant about their own body functions. The entire subject of human reproduction was taboo. Sex organs were considered dirty. Indeed, people were not even supposed to look at themselves in the nude. Conception, pregnancy, and birth were dark and threatening mysteries. As a result, many women were afraid of becoming mothers-they were literally out of touch with their bodies.
In those days, childbirth could be a very depressing, degrading, and dangerous experience. For example, it was widely believed that a woman was destined to bear her children in pain and that such suffering was good for her since it would increase her motherly feelings. She was expected to play a completely passive role. As she had no understanding of the process of birth, she hardly knew what was happening to her. Furthermore, unsanitary conditions in homes and hospitals exposed mothers and their babies to serious infections. Thus, many women died in childbed, and many infants never survived the first few weeks of their lives.

[Course 2] [Description] [How to use it] [Introduction] [Conception] [Pregnancy] [Birth] [Historical Notes] [Modern Childbirth] [Labor and Delivery] [After Delivery] [Lactation] [Sexual Intercourse] [Infertility] [Contraception] [Abortion] [Additional Reading] [Examination]