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Childbirth
August 14, 2012
4:33 pm
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Rosie
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I was watching The Tudors again the other day, and came across the episode where Anne gave birth to Elizabeth. Out of interest, were there any remedies that made childbirth any easier back then? Like wasn’t there a potion you could take to make you sleep through it for a bit? Also, does anybody have any statistic’s for the amount of woman/babies that died during labour or afterwards? I feel so sorry for all the woman who had to give birth, especially those who had loads of children, like Catherine Knollys.

Thank you 🙂

August 14, 2012
6:44 pm
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Sharon
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Hi RosieMay,
I was recently reading an article that gave the stats for infant mortality in Tudor times. 25% of infants died before their first birthday. 50% died before age 10.
I don’t think there was anything that made childbirth easier for the women of the 16th century. I did find this: Almond oil that had been warmed may have been used to anoint the womb of the laboring woman. The midwife may have provided herbal infusions, poultices, and ointments to ease the process.
That all sounds about as effective as putting a knife under the bed to cut the pain.

August 14, 2012
8:04 pm
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Elliemarianna
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I think women’s pain thresholds would have been far higher than they are now. They would not have had pain killers available, not to the standards we have today at least. I didn’t find child birth as horrendous as I imagined personally.

"It is however but Justice, & my Duty to declre that this amiable Woman was entirely innocent of the Crimes with which she was accused, of which her Beauty, her Elegance, & her Sprightliness were sufficient proofs..." Jane Austen.

August 14, 2012
9:12 pm
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Anyanka
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Wasn’t poppy juice ( opiates) was known to be a sleeping aide of the time?

The English Housewife by Gervase Markham first published in 1615 gives as a recipie for ease of child-bearing

If a woman has a strong hard labour; take 4 spoonfule of another woman’s milk, and give it to the woman in her labour , and she shall be delivered presently.

It's always bunnies.

August 14, 2012
10:58 pm
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Boleyn
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Lavender was possibly used as it’s smell is suppose to have a calming affect. As are hops strangely enough, Willow bark was also chewed to help with the pain, (Willow bark contains Aspirin). Also Calomile is meant to be very relaxing as is Valerian root. Apart from that it was pretty much down to you to cope with the pain as best you could.
Infant Mortality was extremely high as Sharon rightly points out, and it wasn’t uncommon to have 2 or 3 boys with the same name with in one family.
They weren’t very creative when it came to naming their children, girls were usually named after their Mothers or the Queen. Boys usually after their father or Grandfathers and there was always one boy named after the King.
Childbirth these days is a doddle, given the medical science we have today. I wouldn’t know what it’s like to give birth in the natural way of things as I had all of my children by Ceasarion due to medical reasons.
But I’m told the first child can sometimes be a litle difficult for some people but after that it’s a little like riding a bike you never forgot how to do it. My best freind’s last child arrived in little less than half and hour, from the time her waters broke, unfortunatly for her she was shopping in Tesco’s and the baby was born in Tesco’s Car Park, the Ambulance being delayed by Traffic. Although credit where credit’s due the proxy Midwife (Tesco cashier) did a brilliant job despite the fact she’d never assisted in a childbirth before. So the slogan for Tesco’s which is “Every Little Helps” certain rang true that day.
Queen Victoria made the use of Ether become fashionable for woman in Childbirth. Victoria hated being pregnant and even more so when it came to childbirth, she simply hated pain so the doctor used to give her Ether during her labours, which made things go a little easier for her. She must have liked the smell of it or something as she had 9 children.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

August 15, 2012
2:33 am
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Gill
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Sharon said

I don’t think there was anything that made childbirth easier for the women of the 16th century. I did find this: Almond oil that had been warmed may have been used to anoint the womb of the laboring woman. The midwife may have provided herbal infusions, poultices, and ointments to ease the process.
That all sounds about as effective as putting a knife under the bed to cut the pain.

Yeah, and that’s probably where most of the childbed infections were introduced – midwives with unwashed hands messing around down there. That might be why JS died – she had an extraordinarily long labour and her midwives were probably trying all sorts to help her along. Despite the fact I cannot like her, I do pity her horrible labour.

August 15, 2012
9:31 am
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Boleyn
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Boleyn said

Lavender was possibly used as it’s smell is suppose to have a calming affect. As are hops strangely enough, Willow bark was also chewed to help with the pain, (Willow bark contains Aspirin). Also Calomile is meant to be very relaxing as is Valerian root. Apart from that it was pretty much down to you to cope with the pain as best you could.
Infant Mortality was extremely high as Sharon rightly points out, and it wasn’t uncommon to have 2 or 3 boys with the same name with in one family.
They weren’t very creative when it came to naming their children, girls were usually named after their Mothers or the Queen. Boys usually after their father or Grandfathers and there was always one boy named after the King.
Childbirth these days is a doddle, given the medical science we have today. I wouldn’t know what it’s like to give birth in the natural way of things as I had all of my children by Ceasarion due to medical reasons.
But I’m told the first child can sometimes be a litle difficult for some people but after that it’s a little like riding a bike you never forgot how to do it. My best freind’s last child arrived in little less than half and hour, from the time her waters broke, unfortunatly for her she was shopping in Tesco’s and the baby was born in Tesco’s Car Park, the Ambulance being delayed by Traffic. Although credit where credit’s due the proxy Midwife (Tesco cashier) did a brilliant job despite the fact she’d never assisted in a childbirth before. So the slogan for Tesco’s which is “Every Little Helps” certain rang true that day.
Queen Victoria made the use of Ether become fashionable for woman in Childbirth. Victoria hated being pregnant and even more so when it came to childbirth, she simply hated pain so the doctor used to give her Ether during her labours, which made things go a little easier for her. She must have liked the smell of it or something as she had 9 children.

It was Cloraform Queen Victoria used during Labour, not Ether. Mea Culpa… I remembered in the middle of the night Dinosaur thought I’d gone mad when I suddenly sat straight up in bed and said “It was cloraform”

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

August 15, 2012
9:41 am
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Boleyn
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Gill said

Sharon said

I don’t think there was anything that made childbirth easier for the women of the 16th century. I did find this: Almond oil that had been warmed may have been used to anoint the womb of the laboring woman. The midwife may have provided herbal infusions, poultices, and ointments to ease the process.
That all sounds about as effective as putting a knife under the bed to cut the pain.

Yeah, and that’s probably where most of the childbed infections were introduced – midwives with unwashed hands messing around down there. That might be why JS died – she had an extraordinarily long labour and her midwives were probably trying all sorts to help her along. Despite the fact I cannot like her, I do pity her horrible labour.

One of the mad things that the midwives used to do to try and speed up labour especially if it was going on too long, was to toss the lady in labour in a blanket. I rather think what killed J.S was partly to do with hygiene but also because I think she was given an episotomy and probably with the same knife they used for everything else, from eating food with to picking their noses with. Doesn’t bear thinking about does it ?
There was a rumour that Jane was delivered by Ceaserion too. Poor Jane she went through hell to to get this child born and didn’t even have the chance to be a mother to him.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

August 15, 2012
10:26 am
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Neil Kemp
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Boleyn said

Boleyn said

Lavender was possibly used as it’s smell is suppose to have a calming affect. As are hops strangely enough, Willow bark was also chewed to help with the pain, (Willow bark contains Aspirin). Also Calomile is meant to be very relaxing as is Valerian root. Apart from that it was pretty much down to you to cope with the pain as best you could.
Infant Mortality was extremely high as Sharon rightly points out, and it wasn’t uncommon to have 2 or 3 boys with the same name with in one family.
They weren’t very creative when it came to naming their children, girls were usually named after their Mothers or the Queen. Boys usually after their father or Grandfathers and there was always one boy named after the King.
Childbirth these days is a doddle, given the medical science we have today. I wouldn’t know what it’s like to give birth in the natural way of things as I had all of my children by Ceasarion due to medical reasons.
But I’m told the first child can sometimes be a litle difficult for some people but after that it’s a little like riding a bike you never forgot how to do it. My best freind’s last child arrived in little less than half and hour, from the time her waters broke, unfortunatly for her she was shopping in Tesco’s and the baby was born in Tesco’s Car Park, the Ambulance being delayed by Traffic. Although credit where credit’s due the proxy Midwife (Tesco cashier) did a brilliant job despite the fact she’d never assisted in a childbirth before. So the slogan for Tesco’s which is “Every Little Helps” certain rang true that day.
Queen Victoria made the use of Ether become fashionable for woman in Childbirth. Victoria hated being pregnant and even more so when it came to childbirth, she simply hated pain so the doctor used to give her Ether during her labours, which made things go a little easier for her. She must have liked the smell of it or something as she had 9 children.

It was Cloraform Queen Victoria used during Labour, not Ether. Mea Culpa… I remembered in the middle of the night Dinosaur thought I’d gone mad when I suddenly sat straight up in bed and said “It was cloraform”

Yes, Boleyn, Queen Victoria’s obstectrician (John Snow) used chloroform on her during labour. Next year sees the 200th anniversary of John Snow’s birth in York (strange, I always thought he was a fast bowler for EnglandWink).

August 15, 2012
10:26 am
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Neil Kemp
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Boleyn said

Boleyn said

Lavender was possibly used as it’s smell is suppose to have a calming affect. As are hops strangely enough, Willow bark was also chewed to help with the pain, (Willow bark contains Aspirin). Also Calomile is meant to be very relaxing as is Valerian root. Apart from that it was pretty much down to you to cope with the pain as best you could.
Infant Mortality was extremely high as Sharon rightly points out, and it wasn’t uncommon to have 2 or 3 boys with the same name with in one family.
They weren’t very creative when it came to naming their children, girls were usually named after their Mothers or the Queen. Boys usually after their father or Grandfathers and there was always one boy named after the King.
Childbirth these days is a doddle, given the medical science we have today. I wouldn’t know what it’s like to give birth in the natural way of things as I had all of my children by Ceasarion due to medical reasons.
But I’m told the first child can sometimes be a litle difficult for some people but after that it’s a little like riding a bike you never forgot how to do it. My best freind’s last child arrived in little less than half and hour, from the time her waters broke, unfortunatly for her she was shopping in Tesco’s and the baby was born in Tesco’s Car Park, the Ambulance being delayed by Traffic. Although credit where credit’s due the proxy Midwife (Tesco cashier) did a brilliant job despite the fact she’d never assisted in a childbirth before. So the slogan for Tesco’s which is “Every Little Helps” certain rang true that day.
Queen Victoria made the use of Ether become fashionable for woman in Childbirth. Victoria hated being pregnant and even more so when it came to childbirth, she simply hated pain so the doctor used to give her Ether during her labours, which made things go a little easier for her. She must have liked the smell of it or something as she had 9 children.

It was Cloraform Queen Victoria used during Labour, not Ether. Mea Culpa… I remembered in the middle of the night Dinosaur thought I’d gone mad when I suddenly sat straight up in bed and said “It was cloraform”

Yes, Boleyn, Queen Victoria’s obstectrician (John Snow) used chloroform on her during labour. Next year sees the 200th anniversary of John Snow’s birth in York (strange, I always thought he was a fast bowler for EnglandWink).

August 15, 2012
10:31 am
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Neil Kemp
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This post seems to have doubled itself. I keep getting “navigation error” and “unsafe website” messages again. Anyone else getting these problems? I had hoped this had all been sorted, but I think I’ll take the risk and continue to log onto this “unsafe” siteSmile.

August 15, 2012
4:14 pm
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Rosie
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Oh, thats so interesting! I heard about lavender being used and other herbs, but some how I think that wouldn’t have helped too much :p. With Jane Seymour, wasn’t Henry asked if they had his permission to perform a caesarean on her? Queen Victoria using chloroform I knew about, isn’t that dangerous though to smell it or am I getting mixed up?

August 15, 2012
4:35 pm
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Boleyn
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RosieMay said

Oh, thats so interesting! I heard about lavender being used and other herbs, but some how I think that wouldn’t have helped too much :p. With Jane Seymour, wasn’t Henry asked if they had his permission to perform a caesarean on her? Queen Victoria using chloroform I knew about, isn’t that dangerous though to smell it or am I getting mixed up?

To be honest Rosie I’m not entirely sure, but given how desperate Henry was for a heir, I wouldn’t put it pass him to let the Doctors Butcher Jane to get the child out. Rumour has it that one of the Midwifes told Henry that there was a choice between saving Jane’s life or the Baby’s life and Henry said quite callously “Save the child another wife can easily be found”..
I think too much Chloroform can be dangerous but I think it was probably only a very small amount dabbed on to a rag which Victoria inhaled from time to time during her Labour not on a continue basis. A little like using Enternox during labour today. I would imagine the affects of using Chloroform would again be the same affect as you get with Enternox too. Feels like you had a little too much to drink. I remember when I had my youngest Dinosaur kept taking little puffs of it he loved it, the silly old twit…

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

August 15, 2012
5:14 pm
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Olga
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Boleyn said

It was Cloraform Queen Victoria used during Labour, not Ether. Mea Culpa… I remembered in the middle of the night Dinosaur thought I’d gone mad when I suddenly sat straight up in bed and said “It was cloraform”

Laugh

August 15, 2012
6:20 pm
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Sharon
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Neil Kemp said

This post seems to have doubled itself. I keep getting “navigation error” and “unsafe website” messages again. Anyone else getting these problems? I had hoped this had all been sorted, but I think I’ll take the risk and continue to log onto this “unsafe” siteSmile.

That hasn’t happened to me in a while, Neil. However, since this is such a dangerous site, it will probably continue to happen us now and then. Smile

Boleyn,
Smile

August 15, 2012
10:22 pm
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Anyanka
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RosieMay said

Oh, thats so interesting! I heard about lavender being used and other herbs, but some how I think that wouldn’t have helped too much :p. With Jane Seymour, wasn’t Henry asked if they had his permission to perform a caesarean on her? Queen Victoria using chloroform I knew about, isn’t that dangerous though to smell it or am I getting mixed up?

While it’s a possible carcinogen, the main danger is with the dosage being miscalculated and the patient suffering from an irregular heart-beat and going into cardiac arrest which is reasonably common amongst people using solvent sniffing as a drug.

It's always bunnies.

August 15, 2012
10:58 pm
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Gill
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Boleyn said

RosieMay said

Oh, thats so interesting! I heard about lavender being used and other herbs, but some how I think that wouldn’t have helped too much :p. With Jane Seymour, wasn’t Henry asked if they had his permission to perform a caesarean on her? Queen Victoria using chloroform I knew about, isn’t that dangerous though to smell it or am I getting mixed up?

To be honest Rosie I’m not entirely sure, but given how desperate Henry was for a heir, I wouldn’t put it pass him to let the Doctors Butcher Jane to get the child out. Rumour has it that one of the Midwifes told Henry that there was a choice between saving Jane’s life or the Baby’s life and Henry said quite callously “Save the child another wife can easily be found”..

He would probably be perfectly capable of saying such a thing, but the fact that Jane lived for eleven days after the birth proves she did not have a caesarean. Such an operation at that time would be certain, immediate death, and the story is a later invention. Jane was well enough to be taking visitors after the christening and no one remarked that the queen was unwell. She took a downward turn just afterwards.

August 15, 2012
11:53 pm
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Anyanka
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The Death of Queen Jane ( Child no 170)

Queen Jane lay in labor
For six weeks and more
The women grew weary
And the midwife gave o’er

King Henry, he was sent for
On horse back and speed
King Henry came to her
In the time of her need

Oh Henry, good King Henry
If that you do be
Please pierce my side open
And save my baby

Oh no Jane, good Queen Jane
That never could be
I’d lose my sweet flower
To save my baby

Queen Jane she turned over
She fell all in a swoon
Her side was pierced open
And the baby was found

How bright was the morning
How yellow was the moon
How costly the white robes
Queen Jane was wrapped in

King Henry he weeped
He wrung his hands ’til they’re sore
The flower of England
Will never be no more

It's always bunnies.

August 16, 2012
8:02 am
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Gill
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Yes, I’ve seen that poem before. It’s not exactly a primary source though. Wink Really, six weeks in labour is pretty far fetched. I’m fairly sure it was actually 3 days…still horrifically long. One thing the poem does prove though, is that the public believed Henry to be capable of such a thing. His reputation was pretty black by then.

August 16, 2012
3:27 pm
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Boleyn
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I don’t think Jane had a ceaserion. I rather think it’s more likely she had an episotomy followed by a forceps delivery as Little Eddy was quite a large baby. The whole idea about Jane being delivered by a ceaserion probably got thrown in years later due to how the doctor’s notes were worded. They probably read something like “I had to cut into her Majesty to help deliver the child”
The fact that Jane lived for 11 days after Little Eddy’s birth throws the theory of a ceaserion out of the window to me at least.
I rather think Jane’s death was caused by a rupture in her uterus and was maybe caused by the use of the forceps. In short she bled to death and septesemia was the least of her worries.
I also wonder if the reason why Jane had such a prolonged labour was down to the fact that she may have had Placenta previa?. Normally as you know the placentia usually roots on either the side or the top of the womb, perhaps Jane’s rooted on the cervix with is why she had such difficulty in giving birth?. It would also explain the blood loss as in order to get at the child the doctor would have hack the Placenta to pieces.
Poor Jane she must have suffered terribly and she never got to see her child grow up…
Did she actually see her Son before her death?

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

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