Birth of a baby. A look back in history (article by guest author)
Sometimes a look back in history can tell us a lot about the state of the economy state of parents health and contributing factors. It can also give us an insiight as to when doctors became in spired to make changes for the better to the nhs health system and what accidents took place in the discovery of new drugs, procedures and cleanliness to stop unecessary deaths of newborns at birth.Here is what we found.
In the year 1750 life expectancy of women was 33 and men was 31. Wow what poor health did they have !
65% of babies died at bith and 35% of babies born lived.William Smellie was the greatest figure in English obstetrics. He was first to teach obstetrics and midwifery on a scientific basis; first to lay down safe rules for the use of forceps, and to separate obstetrics from surgery.
Smellie was the son of Archibald Smellie and his wife, Sara Kennedy. He attended the grammar school in his native town and probably received his medical education in Glasgow. In 1720 he commenced practice as a surgeon and apothecary in Lanark. He remained a country practitioner for almost twenty years.
In 1724 he married Eupham Borland, who survived him, and died on 27 June 1769. They had no children.
Smellie became e member of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow in 1733. Following studies in Paris, where he attended lectures on midwifery, in 1739 he went to London, where he established a pharmacy.
In London, William Hunter (1718-1783) came to live with him, and he began to give obstetrical lecture-demonstrations to midwives and medical students in 1741.The courses attracted large numbers of students, and his teaching is described by a pupil as “distinct, mechanical, and unreserved.” His fee for a single course was three guineas, Smellie obtained his medical doctorate from the University of Glasgow in 1745.
He delivered poor women free of charge if his students were allowed to attend the delivery, thus establishing a trend towards the attendance of medically trained persons at childbirth.
Smellie always emphasised the importance of the natural birth process, and in general advised against resorting to surgical methods. He is best known for his descriptions of “the mechanisms of labour”, or how the infant’s head adapts to changes in the pelvic canal during birth. To him are owed the first attempts to measure the foetal cranium in utero.
Smellie was also reluctant to use the forceps, and permitted caesarean section only in the most extreme cases of narrow pelvis. To him the life of the mother always had priority to that of her offspring, so, when he saw it necessary, he never hesitated to perforate and destroy the brain of the foetus in order to save the mother.
Smellie developed various types of obstetric forceps, some with lock and curved blades, called Smellie’s forceps. He developed a craniotomy scissors, Smellie’s scissors. The method of delivery of the after-coming head with the child resting on the physicians forearm is known as the Smellie method. This was a rational attitude considering infant mortality at his time.
Children as young as 7 where employed in cotton factories. Many parents were unwilling to allow their children to work in these new textile factories. To overcome this labour shortage factory owners had to find other ways of obtaining workers. One solution to the problem was to buy children from orphanages and workhouses. The children became known as pauper apprentices. This involved the children signing contracts that virtually made them the property of the factory owner.
Children who worked long hours in the textile mills became very tired and found it difficult to maintain the speed required by the overlookers. Children were usually hit with a strap to make them work faster. In some factories children were dipped head first into the water cistern if they became drowsy. Children were also punished for arriving late for work and for talking to the other children. Parish apprentices who ran away from the factory was in danger of being sent to prison. Children who were considered potential runaways were placed in irons.
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Tags: 1750, 1750childbirth, against, attended, Baby, Birth, birth of a baby, doctors, London, medical, midwifery, new, obstetrics, William Smellie, women | Category: News & Education, Obstetrics |