I’VE left it pretty much to the proud grandmother
(and they don’t come much prouder than Judy at the moment) to celebrate Chloe’s gift to our family. And as Judy reveals here, the delivery was not without drama. But I wondered: how did mothers in previous centuries survive caesareans without anaesthetic or scrupulously sterile procedures? Surely they must have died from shock or some type of ghastly infections?
Dr Rachel Gillibrand, a historian of pre-modern health at the University of Leeds, has some surprising answers. In a serendipitous (to me, anyway) article this week, she confirmed that caesareans WERE performed many hundreds of years ago, but ONLY on pregnant women who had just died.
Why? So that the foetus/baby could be instantly baptised before it, too, passed away. It was universally believed that if a child died before baptism, God would automatically bar it from heaven and cast the tiny soul into limbo, the first circle of hell.
Dr Gillibrand says it wasn’t until the 19th century that caesareans offered reasonable hope for the survival of mother and child. Good job our Chloe was born in the 20th one, then.