Four topics – Quoted Dr J. Whitridge Williams’ book “TS: Simple Discoveries in Painless Childbirth (1914)

by faithgibson on September 3, 2015

in Contemporary Childbirth Politics, Historical Childbirth Politics 1820-1980, Historical Publications, OB Interventions: Dubious or Detrimental

Physiological normalcy as an impediment to medicalization

That word “physiological” has all along stood as a barrier in the way of progress.

The truth is that in assuming an upright posture and in developing an enormous brain, the human race has so modified the conditions incident to child-bearing as to put upon the mother a burden that may well enough be termed abnormal in comparison with the function of motherhood as it applies to other races of animate beings. Moreover, … the displacement of the uterus after parturition is a condition of unknown cause, notwithstanding its frequency and the severe character of
the suffering that it ultimately entails.

The 19th century Disease – The Mysterious Displacement of Uteri

Take, as a single illustration, the matter of displacement of the uterus. I have quoted Dr. Williams to the effect that no one knows just why such displacements occur, or in what cases they are likely to occur. What we do know is that in a certain large proportion of cases, such a displacement does occur in the course of the few weeks succeeding delivery.
And Dr. Williams is authority for the statement that the displacement may ordinarily be remedied effectually and permanently by the simple expedient of using a supporting pessary for a few weeks, if the condition is diagnosed at once and the remedial agency employed.

Thousands of women go through life without enjoying a really well day, because of such a uterine displacement, undiagnosed or uncorrected. Yet it goes without saying that the woman who is attended by a midwife or by an unskilled practitioner is usually never so much as examined to determine whether the uterus has or has not maintained its natural position after childbirth.

If the service of the lying-in hospital had no other merit than the single one of assuring to each other mother the normal involution, and retention of normal placement of her uterus, its service in the interests of the health and welfare of women would still be enormous.

The mother’s “ordeal” of physiological function plus the doctor’s pitch for lying-in hospitals

What an incalculable boon and blessing it would be, then, if conditions could be so altered that every woman brought to childbed might be insured efficient and skillful service in carrying her through the ordeal that the performance of this physiological function imposes upon her.

That word “physiological” has all along stood as a barrier in the way of progress.

And this can be accomplished in no other way than has been suggested, except by the extension of a lying-in service far beyond the bounds of anything that has hitherto been attempted.

To meet their needs, it would be necessary to have a small lying-in hospital located in every town of three or four thousand inhabitants. At first thought, this seems an ideal impossible of realization. But if we consider the matter with attention, without for a moment overlooking the practicalities, we shall see, I think, that such a project by no
means present insuperable difficulties.

In time every mother in the community should come to patronize such a hospital; for it will come to be known that the home is no place for a woman during the ordeal of childbirth.

These comforts, it must be borne in mind, include the use of pain-annulling drugs. In this country, it is customary to anesthetize the patient with chloroform, though some competent practitioners prefer ether. We have already seen that the merits of the morphine-scopolamin[e] treatment, inducing the Twilight Sleep, are to be fully tested at the Johns Hopkins Hospital…


Patient Education and Public Relations in the Vocabulary of Propaganda

Sub-heading in the book:  “OBJECTION FROM WOMEN

Of course, there will be difficulties in the way of carrying out such a scheme, with its implied sojourn in a hospital for the great majority of women during their accouchement.

The chief objections will come from the women themselves. Indeed, this is about the only opposition that need be considered. Woman is the ruler in America, and what she wishes is never denied her. So it remains only to gain the assent of women to put
the project for the wide extension of a lying-in service ….

… the farm wife must be educated before she could be made to see the desirability of this arrangement. The first thought of the average wife is that she cannot possibly be spared from home, and that the idea of going to the hospital is not even to be considered. But as soon as the advantages offered by the hospital – painless childbirth, safety to the offspring, and rapid and permanent recovery – come to be generally known the feasibility of the project will quickly be demonstrated.

What a boon it will be, then, to the six million farm wives of America, when facilities have been provided, and customs have been established, making it certain that she may have the comforts of a lying-in hospital, with adequate medical attendance, to solace her in what would otherwise be the dangerous ordeal of motherhood.



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