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Death before BirthFetal Health and Mortality in Historical Perspective$
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Robert Woods

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199542758

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199542758.001.0001

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Midwifery and Fetal Death

Midwifery and Fetal Death

(p.102) 5 Midwifery and Fetal Death
Death before Birth

Robert Woods (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter is concerned with a new history of midwifery, how obstetric practice affected the health and survival of the unborn, and their mothers. It traces the development of scientific knowledge and clinical practice as represented in the sequence of midwifery textbooks published in London during the 18th century and the more specialist studies on the causes of fetal death published during the 19th century. For example, Sarah Stone, William Smellie, William Hunter, Alexander Hamilton, James Whitehead, and William Priestley all dealt with the causes of abortions and stillbirths. They offered opinions on how to prevent miscarriages and how to treat patients most at risk. Their case notes provide detailed illustrations from practical experience, while their textbooks promote the best clinical advice available. The chapter takes us back to certain basics; it aims to describe what was known, how it was used, and what the consequences were for the fetus and neonate. It is not especially concerned with the exaggerated conflicts between women- and men-midwives, with the history of forceps or the lying-in hospitals as the principal objectives. It is preoccupied with patient outcomes.

Keywords:   midwifery, obstetrics, forceps, man-midwives, Sarah Stone, William Smellie, William Hunter, John Hunter, Alexander Hamilton, James Whitehead

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