Chirp!:

    Tuesday, January 01, 2008

    Childbirth in the 1850's

    Wow !

    I am totally addicted and mesmerised by something I stumbled upon tonight when trying to access some info from the hospy where I birthed the firstborn:

    http://www.thewomens.org.au/PatientRecords

    Go to the midwifery books and enlarge and have a read if you're so inclined.
    I've just googled that 'child putrid' means a death ( there were a few of them in 1958, and I thought the term was a bit harsh .. although I was titilated by one woman being labelled a 'lush' in 1856 .. )

    The other thing that interested me was the age of all these women.

    Is the 'older mother' tag of these days a farce ?
    Most of these women are in their mid-20's to mid-30's, and i've noted a few giving birth to their first at 38yrs ( although many more are on their 3rd by that age ).

    What of all those families of 6 and 8 ?
    Were they all birthing in shearing sheds in the country ?
    I've only read a few pages so far, but despite all these women being ( presumably ) of good Catholic stock ( English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish ), they're not breeding like rabbits ( although I did find one woman my age on her 13th - um, you go girl ! ).

    I'm finding it fascinating.
    Forcep births were also done 'under chloriform'. Ouch.

    I'm off to read more..




    ( Update: 'child putrid' is actually different from 'stillborn'. it means they baby died inside the mother and perhaps languished there for a while - back in the day, remember .. no ultrasounds or regular checkups .. so baby was a bit .. err .. 'rank' on exit. Ulcerated, decomposing. Nice )

    17 comments:

    Violet & Rose said...

    I love this stuff! Great find. Hours of morbid fascination!

    Holly & Scolly said...

    Haven't been on line for a few days and just read your "And then some Teenage Girls walked past..." post and just about fell off my chair laughing! Happy New Year to you too, I'm looking forward to an interesting read with your latest link.

    peppermintpatcher said...

    Is this mental preparation for the birth? Under the category of what to avoid!

    h&b said...

    PP - what V&R said.... I love this kind of stuff ....

    ( and I don't do any prep work, or read any of those birth bibles - i'm very lazy .. and they totally don't interest me - give me the morbid history anyday :p )

    I love it !

    KikiMiss said...

    Considering I've got number 3 on the brain I don't know if I should go and read it????

    KikiMiss said...

    SHIT..I just looked, the handwriting looks just like my paternal Grandmother's hand. Funny how they all seemed to write the same way "in those days".

    meggie said...

    Good Luck to you...is it close to birth time? Also, I am guessing you know what sex your new babe is?

    I loved the progress pics of the belly.
    Off now to read at your link.

    Happies for 2008.

    bluemountainsmary said...

    Happy New Year !

    Loved the tummy comparisons though do agree with you on the odd angle of 33 weeks!

    Might give the birth stories a miss though. My own (especially number one) were fraught enough.

    Just realised I am getting excited about yours though!!

    dancingmorganmouse said...

    You know reading stuff like that is what put me off having bebe's in the first place - too interesting NOT to read but too horrifying to even comtemplate doing it!

    Stomper Girl said...

    Hmm. I'm pretty sure me and the Climber would have died in childbirth if we'd had to labour 150 years ago. And what a horrid painful way to die it would have been too. Aren't you glad you're doing it nowadays?

    Aunty Evil said...

    I love this kind of thing too!

    I had to chuckle on page 6 where the woman was "dismissed for bad conduct" after the birth of her child.

    I hope you don't adopt her bad habits!

    Remember, it's all about the baby...ok?

    Stacey (Sheeps Clothing) said...

    I read an interesting book called Midwives a while back. It was fiction, but interesting nontheless if you are interested in that sort of thing.
    We are in a bit of a will we / won't we situation with respect to having a third. Perhaps I had better not read that stuff.
    Only 7 weeks to go! Are you giving hints as to the sex - you know, just in case someone was to knit a hat or something. Should "they" go pink or blue?

    Claire Falkingham said...

    Love the old records, I've got some really old Court records from my Grandad who was a Policeman in Yorkshire, they make great reading!

    I just re-read your baby-names post, and can't wait to see what you decide on! I'm very partial to anything not in the top 1000 mysely!!

    Damselfly said...

    Thanks a lot -- I never thought that maybe a child who died inside would become smelly. But now I know. ;)

    I feel bad for women who had to give birth in those conditions, but I guess to them it was just the way things were.

    Anonymous said...

    My Great Aunt was Catholic and she had 15 children!
    Carolyn
    http://willowhouse.typepad.com

    jorth said...

    My uncle was born on the kitchen table.

    And yes, it was in the country!

    summer pickles said...

    Yippee, I love this stuff too (and good on you for being able to stomach it... right now, just coming out of morning sickness with the occasional queasy day, I don't know I could do it...) There is a great book called sex and suffering which is a fuller (supposedly feminist but I am not convinced) history of RWH, and while it is an intense read, it is fascinating... Let me know if you want to borrow it. I loved it, it told me about the families (of 13)who may have been living in our tiny miners cottage in port. Great read!

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