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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Of interest to mothers

Two new items, one a book and one a research article, attracted my attention recently. "Get me out" by Randi Hutter Epstein, MD is a book chronicling the development of obstetrics throughout history. The other is an article published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, reveals the truth behind two famous obstetrics pioneers.

"Get me out" is a thick tome, rich in information and details about the movement of the birth process from the women-dominated home to the male dominated hospital setting. Along the way, there are various schemes, secrets, deals and plots, and many people who did things we look at askance today in the name of "science". There are also heroes, and those in-between, but the real recommendation of this book is in the flow of the story, and the unfolding of the big picture behind birth.

Mr. Don Shelton, in writing on the careers of Mssrs. Hunter and Smellie, aims to reveal that much of the knowledge that is taken for granted now was obtained under the most horrendous conditions. Body snatching, the abuse of the poor, the indifference to the marginalized-these were all taken for granted in the quest for knowledge. Well-known is the perpetual experimentation on slaves; this study reveals that poor whites fared little better in the search for clues as to how the human body worked. The gem of this study is that it gives both pause and food for thought as to how some of the medical miracles and advancements were obtained.

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