You don't need to know anything about your subject to be an expert. In 1513, Dr. Eucharius Rösslin wrote a book entitled The Rose Garden for Pregnant Women and Midwives despite never having seen or studied deliveries. Why let that stop you? Rösslin believed that a fetus looked exactly like an adult inside his mommy's tummy, but it was just floating around. He also advocated shoving herbs all up in there to get the baby out, much like a turkey. More surprisingly, this book was extremely popular for 200 years.
3. Women Used To Wear Corsets During Their Pregnancies
What's more important? Fashion or the health of your unborn child? Obvious choice. Fashion! In the Victorian era, women would wear corsets all throughout pregnancy, even though doctors advised that the underwear could harm fetuses as well as a woman's reproductive organs. The heart wants what the heart wants!
Believe it or not, chainsaws weren't invented for serial killers to terrorize teenagers at summer camp. In the late 18th century, Scottish doctors John Aitken and James Jeffray developed what became the prototype of the modern chainsaw as a birthing aid. The chainsaw was supposed to be used to cut into the woman's pelvis as an alternative to the C-section. Ouch.
5. Women Used To Have To Share Beds in 17th Century France
You're giving birth. Is it too much to ask for your own bed? In 17th century France it was. Women would have to share beds with up to four other women during labor. Many women would die during childbirth (no surprise there). But to make things worth, sometimes the other women would have to wait hours for someone to take the dead bodies away. Just knowing that would be the conditions you'd have to give birth in must have been a really effective form of birth control!
A "birthing apparatus" was patented in 1965 by Charlotte and George Blonsky. The aid consisted of a rotating table which would spin women around at up to 7Gs until the baby was flung out of the mother and into a net. Sounds fun, but not practical.
If you were a midwife, you better hope that the delivery went a-okay. Because if it didn't, you could be burned at the stake for witchcraft. We're not sure what the science is behind that, but sure. We'll go with it.
Forceps are a tool that are use to aid doctors in delivery, and they're still used today. They were invented by the Chamberlen family, which was a long line of "male midwives" (yup, that was a thing!). They created the design and refused to share it with anyone. That is until a pair of forceps were found in the floorboards of the family home in 1813 and knock off forceps were quickly made.
9. Women Were Told To Use Leeches To Soothe Sore Breasts
Breastfeeding? Then you're no stranger to the feeling of sore breasts. Fortunately, there's a cure for that! In the book The Home Book of Health and Medicine, author William James Horner advises applying "an emollient poultice of bread and milk, or linseed meal, may be applied, and frequently renewed. If there be general uneasiness, with heat and throbbing pain in the part, leeches may be necessary." Hey, a woman's gotta do what a woman's gotta do!
The Caesarian section was not named after Julius Cesar, who was, according to legend, the first child to be born by successfully using that technique. But the technique had been around a long time before he was. It's derived from the Latin word caedo, which means "to cut."
11. C-Sections Used To Be Performed Only On Women Who Were Going To Die
Even more interesting, C-sections used to be performed only on woman who died in childbirth (so that they could burry the woman and the child separately). They were also performed on women who were experiencing complications as a last resort to save the baby's life. That does not sound like fun!
12. Doctors Were Once Advised To Put Pressure On the Clitoris During Birth
In the 1907 classic, Coming Motherhood, Louis A. Spaeth advised the attending physician, the nurse, or even the woman herself to put pressure on the terminal filaments of the sympathetic nerves in and around the clitoris." Only God knows why.
13. Women Used To Have To Give Birth In Front Of A Crowd
Childbirth can be ugly, and you wouldn't think that a woman would want a crowd of people standing around he while she pushes out her offspring. However, in Europe, royal women were fully expected to deliver their heirs in front of a full crowd of spectators. Up to 70 people could be present to ensure that there was no fowl play during the birth.
14. Women Used To Have To Give Birth While Sitting In Chairs
Nowadays, women give birth on beds, but back in the Second Century AD, women were expected to pop a squat on a chair during delivery. The chair had a crescent shaped hole for the baby to be delivered through. Additionally, the chair was equipped with armrests for the woman to grab during childbirth, because of course it would be.
"Twilight Sleep" was introduced in 1914. Women were given a combination of morphine and scopolamin to make the experience of labor more "manageable.' However, women would thrash around while drifting in and out of consciousness. The negative effects of conking out a pregnant woman with a cocktail of drugs were eventually exposed, and the practice was eventually stopped.