Tuesday, January 19, 2010

History moment: empty-headed midwives

Today's history moment comes from Dr. Eucharius Rösslin's wildly popular pregnancy advice book The Rose Garden for Pregnant Women and Midwives, published in 1513. He never attended a birth or even studied childbirth. But that didn't keep him from writing this lovely poem about baby-killing midwives.
I'm talking about the midwives all
Whose heads are empty as a hall
And through their dreadful negligence
Cause babies' death devoid of sense
So thus we see far and about
Official murder, there's no doubt.
Source: Get Me Out: A History of Childbirth from the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank by Randi Hutter Epstein, MD. 


  1. = (

    I'm glad someone is willing to write about it!

  2. Nice. (rolling my eyes)

  3. Oh wow. Don't hold back, Dr. Rösslin. Tell us how you really feel!

  4. Yiiiiikes. Yeah, way to speak with absolute certainty on a subject of which you know nothing...eesh.

  5. Pondering...prior to forceps, babies skulls were crushed at times to assist in an entrapped or excessively long labor to apparently save the mother. Potentially, this physician felt there were mothers who were neglected (midwife was busy, aloof, too far away, whatever) and babies were killed that he felt could have been saved. There were no cesareans. Midwives were doing all the births then, so clearly they would get all the blame. Just trying not always feel like the gun is aimed at me...


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