How do you measure a woman's pain? Historian Whitney Wood aims to find outHistorians in the News
tags: books, historians, research, womens history, medical history
Medical historian Whitney Wood first became interested in the history of women's pain through an undergraduate course that described the practice of "twilight sleep."
Wood, who is the new Canada Research Chair at Nanaimo, B.C.'s Vancouver Island University, says twilight sleep was a form of anesthesia that was popular in the early 20th century, administered to women in labour.
The drug mixture contained a blend of anesthetic and amnesia drugs. Labouring patients would still experience pain in giving birth, but the amnesiac part meant they didn't remember it.
At the same time, the drugs made women extremely excitable and sensitive to stimulation, prompting them to jump out of bed and injure themselves, Wood said.
This meant that the labouring mother would often have to wear a straitjacket and a blindfold to restrict stimulation and control her movements.
"From our modern perspective this sounds horrific ... but for many women in the early 20th century this was a good type of birth and women actively sought this out," Wood said. "My main question was why."
comments powered by Disqus
- When Jim Crow Reigned Amid the Rubble of Nazi Germany
- Why Suburban American Homeowners Were Accused of Being a 'Profit-Making Cartel' in the 1970s
- Animals large and small once covered North America’s prairies – and in some places, they could again
- Library of Congress acquires major archive of African American photographer Shawn Walker
- A farm boy became a fearsome warrior at Iwo Jima. And he did it with a flamethrower.
- Trump and the Christians: Evangelical historian John Fea on decoding the great paradox
- Six historians weigh in on the biggest misconceptions about black history
- Renowned presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin finally takes on George Washington
- Legal Historian Jed Shugerman Says William Barr's Actions Are "Remarkably Not Normal"
- Historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat Quoted in Washington Post Article on Trump's Quest to Rewrite History