The Myth of Miscarriage: An Early Modern Legacy

If a medical school student or resident looked up “miscarriage” in the index of Blueprints Obstetrics & Gynecology (2013), they would be directed to “spontaneous abortion.” Denoting a pregnancy that ends before 20 weeks, spontaneous abortion occurs in 15% to 25% of all pregnancies, and this “number may be even higher because losses that occur…

Ophelia’s Rue

In act 4, scene 5 of Hamlet, Ophelia gives away a number of flowers with medicinal properties, keeping only rue for herself: OPHELIA: There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts. LAERTES: A document in madness, thoughts and remembrance fitted. OPHELIA: There’s fennel for you, and columbines….

Back to Obstetrics: Beyond Normal and Problem Pregnancies

In the image that accompanies the title page of Aristotle’s Compleat and Experience’d Midwife (1700), the birthing chamber is depicted as a room full of lively, fleshed-out bodies, warm and inviting from the fireplace to the small animal sleeping in front of it. The baby is not pictured at all; the experienced midwives gather around…