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Monday, 23 May 2016


In medieval times, childbirth was not so much a medical as a social occasion. The mother chose a midwife and a group of friends to attend her delivery. Men were excluded unless the labor was obstructed and the child could not be delivered.

A woman giving birth on a birth chair, from a work by German physician Eucharius Rößlin

Midwifery forceps were invented in the late sixteenth century by the Huguenot Chamberlen family who had fled from France to England. Their invention remained a family secret for around 150 years.

Obstetrical skills improved in the eighteenth century, as part of a radical transformation of childbirth Long kept a secret by the Chamberlen family in London, midwifery forceps finally appeared gradually in England and Scotland in the 1730s.

The Scottish surgeon William Smellie (February 5, 1697 – March 5, 1763) published his book, Theory and Practice or Treatise on Midwifery in 1752, in which he established safe rules for the use of forceps (of which he introduced several types.) The work was the first scientific approach to midwifery.

William Smellie

Smellie, who mastered obstetrics in Paris, was the first to describe how the baby's head adapts to changes in the birth canal. Midwives used his technique of the after-arriving head resting on the physician's forearm for delivering infants who arrive buttocks first.

In North America, medical midwifery developed under the inspiration of William Shippen (October 1, 1712 – November 4, 1801), who taught anatomy and midwifery at Philadelphia Medical College.

Traffic is so bad in Bangkok that Thai Traffic Police has a unit of officers trained in basic midwifery in order to assist deliveries which do not reach the hospital in time.

Sources Daily Express,

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