Thursday, June 2, 2016

Childbirth and Forceps Delivery

From Regina Jeffers:
The history of forceps include William Smellie’s advancements. He is often considered the proponent of forceps delivery. In the mid 1700s, he designed his own forceps. His “English lock” permitted the blades of the forceps to be inserted into the woman’s vagina separately. He originally covered the blades with leather, and they were lubricated with hog lard. Smellie published the ‘Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Midwifery’ in 1752. (Studd J. “Pioneers in obstetrics and gyanaecology 1: William Smellie.” Diplomate 1994; 1: 153–4)

Elizabeth Nihell, a leading midwife of the period, opposed Smellie’s methods. Nihell trained at Paris’s Hôtel Dieu, a hospital which taught midwifery. In the two years of her residence she witnessed 2000+ births. When she moved to London, Nihell advertised as a midwife in the London Evening Post. In 1760, Nihell published ‘A Treatise of the Art of Midwifery,’ a public statement against Smellie’s development of forceps delivery and opposing the idea of male midwifery, in general. Nihell claimed that few deliveries required the use of forceps. (Read more.)

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