Labor Pains: The Birth Stories of Nurse ONeill

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Ergo sum:. With our present knowledge of the nerve supply of the womb, we are enabled to lessen the pains of labor to a very marked degree. During the first stages, pressure is made with the fingers on the terminal filaments of the sympathetic nerves in and around the clitoris. The index and middle fingers are placed, one on each side of this organ, and firm, moderately hard pressure is made against the bone with the direction of the pressure upward toward the abdomen; this is done by the attending physician, the nurse, or by the woman herself.

A reflex result occurs, in which contraction of the womb follows; its mouth dilates, normal propulsion pains ensue, and labor proceeds naturally, all unnecessary flying pains cease. I cannot speak against this method, as even though I have had two children, I have never tried it. And likely would have punched anyone who suggested I should.

In , postpartum care mostly involved holding very, very still for a ridiculously long time.

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After childbirth, women are particularly fragile in mind and body, and physicians where terrified important things would fall out of a lady if she jostled around too much. Rest and quiet should be strictly enforced; no visitors should be admitted for a fortnight or three weeks, both to secure the mother from fatiguing herself by talking, and from hearing anything that might agitate or distress her mind.

Even if the new mother wants to talk, she's not allowed to. After all that the newly made mother has undergone, she needs perfect quiet for several hours before she is permitted to see anyone. A five-minute interview with her husband is all that should be granted.

Mums share hilarious childbirth outbursts during labour

However well she feels, quiet should be insisted upon. Excitement is dangerous and no visitors must be permitted to enter the room, nor should conversation be allowed, even if she wishes to talk. Neglect of this precaution may cause serious disaster, even when all seems to be going on well. Fry details the amount of interaction and movement the mother is allowed in excruciating detail. For the first two hours after labor the patient should lie upon her back with the lower limbs extended and her head low.


She can then be changed to the side position when desired, but for the first four days she ought to lie upon her back most of the time. After the fourth day she should change to the side often, and it is desirable to lie upon the abdomen some. After the fifth or sixth day she may be propped up in bed with pillows behind her for one-half or one hour at a time.

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She should not sit up in a chair until the top of the womb has descended into the pelvic cavity — from the tenth to the fourteenth day. The first day that she sits up she should remain out of bed only one hour and must not stand upon her feet or walk until the middle or end of the third week. On the second day that she gets out of bed she can stay up one hour in the morning and one in the afternoon or evening. The length of time is gradually increased, but even during the third or fourth weeks she should lie down or recline upon a sofa much of the time.

She should not get up early in the mornings, but have her bath, breakfast, and a rest before doing so.

Nurse Midwife

She should wear a wrapper and not go through unnecessary fatigue of dressing. She should not go down stairs until the end of the fourth week, and then only once a day for the first three days. After that she can go down morning or noon and evening. At the end of the fifth week she can go out for a short walk or drive. Shopping and visiting should be avoided for some time longer. Neglect of these precautions often causes backache, subinvolution, and displacement of the womb. Fry must have been writing for a very elite group of women who had the luxury of lying around all day.

Today, we live in a world where pre-made clothes wash themselves in large whirring boxes, and meals come prepackaged in plates you can throw away, and I still don't know any woman who can spend six weeks not moving. One-hundred-fifty years ago, if the average farmwife took to her bed for that length of time, her family would starve, her animals would turn feral, and the dark forest would reclaim her homestead.

Still, it's a lovely thought.

Sublime Motherhood

Aside from stillness, there are other precautions to consider. For instance, if you find your generative organs have been unduly tormented by the act of childbirth, Horner suggests milk and bread. Or leeches. Great stretching of the parts. This occasions great soreness, and uneasy feelings, which are best removed by bathing with warm milk and water. If there be much swelling, an emollient poultice of bread and milk, or linseed meal, may be applied, and frequently renewed.

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If there be general uneasiness, with heat and throbbing pain in the part, leeches may be necessary. As for the rest of your general post-partum health, one of the worst things you can do, according to Horner, is to eat and drink. Which may not be all that bad, considering you're not allowed to move. The diet of women, after delivery, should be particularly attended to. For the first five or six days, all heating and stimulant food, and in general all solid and animal food whatever, should be forbidden, as such diet is very apt to bring on inflammatory complaints.

If the woman is not to nurse, she should avoid liquids as much as possible, and rather take a little fruit, ripe or preserved, to quench the thirst. If she is to nurse, she may have a little tea and panado, or gruel for breakfast, and, after a few days have elapsed, a little weak chicken broth or beef-tea, with toasted bread, for dinner; but wines and malt liquors should be avoided. If you're not going to breastfeed, you haven't earned the right to eat your gruel. But you can have malt liquor.

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Today, childbirth is slowly returning to the domain of the female attendant, with female doulas, midwives, nurse midwives, and obstetricians slowly outpacing their male counterparts. It is possible that the time in which men were the prime authorities on childbirth will prove to be but a small blip in history. Because, after all, women were made for it. Put humbly by Gunn:. That Women generally endure pain and sickness with more fortitude and patience than men, is evident.

Looking forward with the pleasing hope of being the mother of a tender offspring, upon which she can lavish her affection and tenderness, sustains her in fulfilling the conditional requirements of Nature.

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Few men could be induced, for any consideration, to suffer in a similar manner. How to give birth years ago. Three times the fun. Turn-of-the-century plumbing, for instance, was an evil in need of a good spackling, according to Henry Davidson Fry's book, Maternity : Sewer gas in the room is dangerous; for that reason a communicating bathroom is objectionable. However, John Gunn's Gunn's New Domestic Physician had a gentler suggestion for preparing those sensitive areas for the task ahead: The parts of generation during labor should always be well oiled or greased with lard, as it greatly assists and mitigates the suffering, and lubricates the parts of passage.

Here, management cares more about making money than taking care of patients and conditions for the nurses become too much to bear. Labor Pains is transformation: a new life struggles to unfold; a united purpose grips the nurses and a political movement is born. In many workplaces, nurses just want to do their jobs and go home, but at Mercy Hospital getting involved in politics becomes a necessity.

Healthcare is changing. The battle lines between big box brands and patient care have been drawn and nurses can no longer remain neutral. Giving birth is hard, but giving birth to change can be even harder.