The introduction of anesthesia
was slow because of the opposition of the clergy and the medical
In 1591, Eufama McAlayne of Edinburgh was buried alive on Castle Hill
begging a potion from a midwife Agnes Sampson to relieve her labor
Pain in labor has been
considered as a natural
atonement of women for the original sin commited in the garden of
Hence, most prominent clergymen objected to the administration of
in a parturient mother.
Leading minds in medicine
Hodge, Bedford, were against the use of anesthesia in midwifery.
They believed that, "Self respecting women should not submit to the
or drunkeness produced by anesthetics!"
frame mask with
thumbpiece and folding out cross-shaped bars to be covered with
The mask was placed over the patient's nose and mouth and ether or
was dripped into the gauze to effect anesthesia. On January
19, 1847, James Young Simpson administered ether to a patient in
The following year, chloroform was introduced into obstetrics by the
Chloroform mask made
by Reed and Barton. In use, gauze was placed over the mesh
and the wire spring ring held it in place. The device was placed
over the patient's nose and mouth and chloroform or ether was dripped
the gauge to effect anesthesia. Chloroform was favored over ether
because the latter was quick acting, nicer smelling, lasted longer, and
not flammable. The first question a laboring patient asked
her doctor was, "have you brought the chloroform doctor?"
Reynold's Obstetric Inhaler
It is a self administered ether
inhaler during labor. The body is made of nickel plated
brass. The handle is made of oak.
in pregnancy was part of prenatal care and was a common practice.
Up to 300 ml (10 oz) of blood was taken at least once in mid
pregnancy. A bleeding bowl shown below catches and measures the
amount of blood let go. It was considered that bloodletting would
remove the phletora of blood
that makes the process of labor
difficult. The superficial veins of the arm more than in the legs
were mostly cut. Rarely leeches were utilized.
bloodletting was used for pain relief of labor. Dewees attributed
pain in labor to abnormal biological conditions produced by
loss of power in the longitudinal muscular fibers (Right photo in
over the circular fibers of the uterus (Right photo in
The resistance of the circular muscle fibers, could be overcome by
the patient. The sharp knife was snapped into the vein of a
patient with a spring. The spring lancet is a small brass
measuring 5.5 x 3 cm. with leather case. Circa 1780.
Circa 19th Century
Bloodlettting was found to relieve
cramping. Besides bed rest from 4 to 6 weeks, the poor
was bled at the veins of the hand or arm. The devise shows a
double-edged blade that could be pivoted between the handle. With
thumb pressure the blade could be positioned at any angle to cut the
This method of treatment was repeated from time to time. Ouch!!
Turtle shell cover. (L 9.5
Circa 18th Century
bleeding bowl used to catch blood in bloodletting procedures in the
Century. There are four rings on the inside of the bowl denoting
4 ounces (120 cc) each. Bloodletting was used to rid the body of
yellow or black bile or blood poisons. Eclampsia, formerly known
as Puerperal Convulsions was thought to be caused by body toxins.
The patient was bled of 16 to 30 ounces (1 liter), until she was on the
verge of shock. Puerperal Convulsions was almost always fatal to
the pregnant patient.
Art work by Rey Evangelista
Circa 19th Century
Often times general
bloodletting was followed
by the use of leeches for treatment of incapacitating menstrual
The leeches were applied within the vulva, or on the groins.
Midwifery, 1838). The photo on the left is a hand blown smooth
carrier used to store the blood suckers. The lip of the glass
is everted for tying a cloth to keep in the leeches. (H 7 cm)
& Knife Bleeder
Circa 18th-19th Century
Eclampsia, formerly called the
was thought to be caused by blood borne toxins, thus the name
The toxins originated from the uterus causing swelling and inflammatin
ot the brain of pregnant women causing her to have seizures.
was used to unload the vessels of the brain (Ramsbotham, 1865). The
artery or the jugular vein was cut by a folding fleam or knife
The bloodletting device was used around the 18th and 19th
It is made of brass with a tortoise shell shield.
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