Is it a girl or boy? How much did they weigh? How was the delivery?
All of these questions are common on the birth of a baby today in the Western World. They assume that childbirth is not dangerous for the mother or baby. However, this has changed markedly over the past century which is a reflection of medical and social changes. In the UK, there was a steep decline in maternal mortality from the 1930s. One of the influences was the birth of NHS. In this lecture we shall look at some of the common practices that raise key questions in the history of obstetrics in selected countries and times. The history of childbirth gives us an excellent insight into the beliefs of the time and place. Where did it take place? Who assisted at the delivery and how had they been trained or educated? What was the father’s role in childbirth? What helped with pain relief? How has maternal mortality changed? When did childbirth become a medical event? We will also look at how childbirth has been portrayed in literature and film which usually reflects prevailing attitudes of the time.
Dr Claire Elliott is a clinical teaching fellow at University College London and also works as a GP in Central London. She has been President of the History of Medicine Section at the Royal Society of Medicine and books editor for the BMJ publication Medical Humanities.
This talk is part of our Life Series and it commemorates the birth of the NHS in its 70th anniversary.
General Admission: £12.00
*Doors will open at 6:30pm.
**Access is through a 52-step spiral staircase.