Surgeries - Child Birthing and Surgery

The earliest recorded instances of childbirth-related surgery are primitive c-sections where the living baby was cut out of the body of the deceased mother in order to save the child's life. There are some indications that this procedure was done as early as 1300 BC.

In 320 BC, Bindusara, the second Mauryan emperor of India is said to have been born by c-section. He is often credited as being the first child to survive to adulthood that had been cut from the abdomen of his mother. The story behind this early c-section is that Bindusara's mother accidently ate poison and died so her husband, emperor Chanragupta Maurya the Great told his teacher and adviser to cut open the belly of the queen and remove the baby.

In the 17th century the first successful pregnancy surgery as a c-section was performed on a laboring woman in Switzerland. Both mother and child survived.

The Episiotomy

Another early form of childbirth surgery technique was the episiotomy. This is a process where an incision is made through the perineum of a woman to enlarge the opening of the vagina to make it easier for the baby to come out. The incision can be made at an angle from the back end of the vulva or at midline.

Nowadays the procedure is done under local anesthetic. In earlier years when the procedure was performed after the woman was basically knocked out with chloroform or ether. During the 1920s and up until the 1950s, this was the common way to give birth. Women were drugged into a state of semi-consciousness that later became known as the Twilight Sleep. Then an episiotomy was done and forceps were used to remove the baby.

Today episiotomies aren't done as often as they once were. It's likely a backlash against the times where it was common procedure in hospital births and done without consent of the laboring woman.

In history midwives rarely performed episiotomies and only if absolutely necessary. The focus was always on natural childbirth and letting the body do what it needed to do. Massage techniques were, and still are, practiced by midwives as a way to help the skin stretch, reduce tearing or the need for an episiotomy. This type of baby surgery became more common as childbirth became considered something to be managed by the medical community and the use of forceps increased. In our modern times midwives are trained to complete episiotomies if necessary. Obstetricians, sometimes very loosely called birth surgeons, perform the majority of episiotomies.

Birth Control Surgery

Modern medicine has made it possible for a woman to choose to be made sterile through surgery. This process is called a tubal ligation. It can be done by women who simply don't want any children, have had the number of children they would like, or have health issues that would put their or their baby's life in jeopardy if they were to ever get pregnant.

In tubal ligations a woman is put under and her fallopian tubes are cut and tied off. The procedure is done through a small hole in the abdomen. Tying off the fallopian tubes stops an egg from traveling to the uterus from the ovary making it impossible for it to be fertilized. It also prevents the sperm from reaching the fallopian tube. This type of birth control surgery is effective immediately and is considered 99.5 percent effective.

Risks of infection with a tubal ligation used to much higher in the early years the surgery was performed. At that time, it was necessary to have a larger opening cut in the abdomen where more germs could easily enter. Early tubal ligations also had a longer recovery time.


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