“Get me out!”: Childbirth through the ages

If you’re pregnant, if you have been pregnant, if you hope to be pregnant someday- or even if you are curious about how your great great grandmother made it through labor and delivery- take some time to listen to this interview.

Terry Gross of WHYY’s Fresh Air talks to Randy Hutter Epstein, a medical historian and physician, about her new book, Get Me Out: A History of Childbirth From the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank.

Hutter Epstein writes about what our ancestors had to endure to deliver their babies- from do-it-yourself forceps to death from child-bed fever, which was probably the result of the complete lack of handwashing among doctors who might arrive for a delivery fresh from performing an autopsy in the days before anyone understood what bacteria was.

It’s fascinating to hear Hutter Epstein talk of the women of Victorian times – when they began to use drugs that brought relief from the pain of labor and delivery- and why they celebrated being spared from, and oblivious to- the birth experience.

Hutter Epstein contrasts that with the feminist movement of the past few decades which inspired women to insist on choosing whether or not to experience a natural birth.

“Get me Out” serves as a great reminder of how far we’ve come.

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