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Exquisitt torment and infinitt grace generate, create gs1 datamatrix barcode none on .net projects .NET from ancient autho .NET barcode data matrix rities or from new findings in anatomy and practical experience.4 Unbeknownst to women like Mrs.

Thornton, or to anyone else at the time for that matter, this was a period in which human technical ingenuity in childbed care underwent a significant improvement that led, over the course of subesequent centuries, to a dramatic drop in cases of maternal mortality. Unfortunately, in the 1650s, when Alice Thornton struggled with the meaning of her own suffering, other factors were making it so that the effects of a number of very important changes (especially the wider availability of sound obstetric information) had little effect on mortality rates, which were at that point on the increase, especially in London, abating only in the early decades of the eighteenth century before dropping even more precipitously over the following two centuries.5 Some practitioners were aware that things could have been better much sooner.

Percival Willughby, for example, a male midwife and obstetric surgeon active in Derby, Stafford, and London from 1621 to 1670, saw himself as an unfortunately ineffective part of this process of change. Like Alice Thornton and the authors of Bentley s collection, he felt that the fate of a woman in childbirth was ultimately in God s hands, but he also believed that training could work wonders, even perhaps restoring what others might have considered an almost Edenic state of affairs. He counseled midwives.

in all their under takings, ever to desire, That God would bee graciously pleased to inform their judgements, & guide their hands, for the better helping, & saving of their women, and children, and, lastly, with submitting humblenes to implore his gracious mercy for mitigating their punishment [that of the women they treated], which is decreed and pronounced against them In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children. . He then claims tha gs1 datamatrix barcode for .NET t while God was displeased with Eve, he never meant for her (or her daughters) to actually die in childbirth. God said, according.

Book 24 of Ambrois e Par s Workes ( Of the Generation of Man ), for example, hardly mentions religion at all beyond a few prefatory remarks and asides, preferring to offer physical explanations instead: Ambroise Par , The Workes of that Famous Chirurgion Ambrose Parey, trans. Thomas Johnson (London, 1634), pp. 885 960.

Adrian Wilson and Irvine Loudon argue that improvements in the circulation of reliable information and the beginnings of the reduction in maternal mortality rates predated the masculinization of childbirth that took hold toward the end of the eighteenth century. See Adrian Wilson, The Making of Man-Midwifery: Childbirth in England, 1600 1770 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995) as well as Loudon s review of that book in Bulletin of the History of Medicine 70 (1996), 507 15 and Irvine Loudon, Death in Childbirth: an International Study of Maternal Care and Maternal Mortality, 1800 1950 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992)..

Milton and Maternal Mortality to Willughby, that woman would In sorrow bring forth children, but not that hee would destroy her [my italics]. Midwives should, therefore, endeavour to mitigate their woman s sorrows, and in no way augment them, by hailing, and pulling their bodies, to help forward, & to increase their sufferings. 6 Over and over again, he recommends gentle techniques for drawing forth an infant, implying and sometimes claiming outright that human error, not divine judgment, was the cause of most of the fatalities he witnessed in the course of his years of practice.

He even describes in detail procedures for managing malpresentations like the one that befell Mrs. Thornton and her baby, insisting that the proper method for delivery by the feet ( podalic version ) was easy enough to learn.7 We know that most midwives were far better at their jobs than those Willughby portrays in his text (he himself believed that in most cases women were better off in the hands of female midwives rather than male surgeons like himself).

He intended to publish his manuscript for the benefit of all practitioners, and certainly believed that if he could just have gotten it into print, many lives would have been saved, and many women spared excessive suffering. He never did, but others from the 1650s on succeeded where he failed, and the gradual improvement in the circulation of technical knowledge toward the end of the seventeenth century was a significant factor in bringing mortality rates down from their high in that century to their relatively low mid nineteenth-century levels.8 In this chapter, I do not hope to explain fully what caused the rise in maternal mortality that marks the middle and later seventeenth century (a goal that continues to elude the historians upon whose work I have relied).

But because we do have better access now than we have ever had before to an understanding of the conditions themselves, as well as of the rituals, practices, and beliefs that people like Thornton, Willughby, and Bentley took for granted in the face of them, we can begin to produce a nuanced account of how and why the surviving childbed texts took the forms they did. We can then go on to explain how a literary artist like Milton came to poetic terms with similar circumstances. Childbed conditions, beliefs, and practices were important parts of the world that drove Milton to poetry, the world whose contours, obstacles, and crossings he had in mind whenever he set pen to paper or dictated to his amenuenses.

It was a world in which. 6 7 8. Percival Willughby , Observations in Midwifery, ed. Henry Blenkinsop (Warwick: printed by H. T.

Cooke, 1863; rpt. Wakefield: S. R.

Publishers, 1972), p. 13. See Willughby, Observations, pp.

121, 146 50 for some harrowing cases in which the procedure was botched. Loudon, Death in Childbirth, pp. 160 1.

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