banana wine knocks you out


umbilical cord clamp found here

ok I know most of my male readers won’t want to know about cesareans and forceps deliveries but this is really interesting.

The invention of forceps was kept secret for more than a century. Developed in the 17th century by Peter Chamberlen, he and his family soon realised its value as a life saving instrument.

Whenever they were called in to help a mother in obstructed labour they ushered everyone else out and covered the mother’s lower half so even she couldn’t see what was going on. Three generations on, Hugh Chamberlen divulged the secret to Dutch surgeon Roger van Roonhuysen who kept the technique within his own family for sixty years. 


(This lovely “corset knife” is not a medical instrument – unless David Cronenberg gets his hands on it)

Once revealed, the forceps quickly gained wide acceptance. When Princess Charlotte’s delivery failed in 1817, her obstetrician was reviled for failing to use them and subsequently shot himself.


The first recorded successful cesarean in the British Empire was conducted by a woman. Sometime between 1815 and 1821, James Miranda Stuart Barry performed the operation while masquerading as a man and serving as a physician to the British army in South Africa.


While Barry applied Western surgical techniques, nineteenth-century travelers in Africa reported instances of indigenous people successfully carrying out the procedure with their own medical practices. In 1879, for example, one British traveller, R.W. Felkin, witnessed cesarean section performed by Ugandans. The healer used banana wine to semi-intoxicate the woman and to cleanse his hands and her abdomen prior to surgery. He used a midline incision and applied cautery to minimize hemorrhaging. He massaged the uterus to make it contract but did not suture it; the abdominal wound was pinned with iron needles and dressed with a paste prepared from roots. The patient recovered well.

L0034922 A mesmeric physician taking advantage of his female pat

Published in: on March 22, 2009 at 5:15 am  Comments (36)  

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36 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Nothing turns my stomach after sitting through both Notting Hill and Mama Mia in the same day.

    I did once begin to boak at Shirley Valentine however.

    Every man has his limits.

    Nice chib by the way. That could really go through bone into a mans skull if used in the right way.

  2. that’s a good manly response Mr Bastard

  3. I want one of the cord clamps that look like a stork. And what, pray tell, do you do with a “corset knife? Was it a life-saving measure in the days when women were tightly corseted to the point they couldn’t breathe?

  4. On a slightly more cerebral point, at what stage did pregnancy become a disease which needed treatment by doctors rather than understanding and explanation by older, experienced women?

  5. silverstar: I want one too. But they’re expensive

    Archie: This is a hot subject isn’t it? Lots of people are talking about unnecessary cesareans these days. I didn’t even have an ultrasound with my pregnancies and the youngest was delivered by a midwife. I watched a friend give birth and the doctor used forceps to get the baby out. He put his foot on the bed for leverage!!!!!

  6. Tiggz was born at home and the first thing the mid-wife did when she arrived was hand cigarettes around! …… those were the days …… fantastic ….

  7. Were you thinking of Dead Ringers with the Cronenberg reference? The intricate and beauthful objects becoming sinister and very scary, eeek, when they are presented as gynacological instruments. Eeek. I like that film. Jeremy Irons cool and creepy as the twins, eh, Nurse Myra.

  8. Yes – that is exactly what I was thinking of!

  9. Ha! High five!

  10. Just some of the reasons I question the wisdom of sprogging.

  11. That is interesting. Seriously. I also like the elegant symmetry of a banana (and probably semi-intoxication) at both the beginning and the end of the Ugandan woman’s pregancy.

  12. ‘Sometime between 1815 and 1821, James Miranda Stuart Barry performed the operation while masquerading as a man’

    So she pretended not to be useless… hahahahahaha… oh, I’ll be going now…

  13. Reading this post wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.

    When my first daughter was about to be born, my brother-in-law took me aside and said, “Whatever you do, don’t look at the placenta.” It’s sound advice that I pass on to other first-time fathers.

  14. i’m glad the doc decided to go for the ‘filet’. my daughter was 11 lbs, 2 1/4 oz. there wouldn’t have been anything natural about that delivery. regret that i didn’t have him put in velcro. my son was 10.5 lbs. despite them getting smaller, i quit.

    one factor in increased c-sections is better maternal health. smoking kept birth weight down. average baby weight in the US has gone from 6lbs in the 50’s to almost 8lbs today…

    in the spirit of darwinism, we adapt. not through hips with more effective ratchet mechanisms, or better elastic in our hoo-hoos, but with knives and anesthesia. i was awake for both deliveries. high as a kite, and feeling no pain…

  15. Forget all of that gutting the pregnant woman crap…that’s girl talk.

    I want that gun! (And the bearded chick).

  16. I asked the doctor, at my first delivery, if he had forceps. “Oh yes, don’t worry, if we need them…” He starts trying to reassure me that all the necessary measures are available, should we need them. “No, just fucking USE them! Now!” He thought that was funny. I didn’t.

  17. OK…so the cord clamp was on the site you linked to. WTF is that top picture of?

    It’s called a cord clamp – there’s a silver one still on the site – about half way down. the blurb beside it says they weren’t used for clamping cords though – it’s just the name they were given

  18. Next week at Gimcrack… Speculum Sunday!

  19. I would love to get hold f one of those corset knives – why it could be used to cut the delightful Nurse free from one of her delightful corsets on Corset Friday!

  20. Needles in the stomach to keep it together…I’m having nightmares tonight!

  21. Well, I think I’d just like to try banana wine …

  22. none of this sounds like anything I’d ever like to be a part of.

  23. “Lots of people are talking about unnecessary cesareans these days. “

    My wife is a nurse. (like you!) I’ve heard the same things. It just doesn’t pay to have a natural childbirth.
    But ***sometimes**…
    thank G-d for clever people who circumvented the rules. And saved the mom’s life,contrary to the “established rules”- which were/are mainly due to the bullshit christian logic of the time that caused many to die that should not have.

    Sorry, im on a rant.

  24. I Don’t know how you manage to find all of this but it is fascinating stuff. Thanks very much Nursemyra.

  25. I’m on that “questioning the wisdom of sprogging” wavelength.

    If Gaia really wants more humans, she’ll let the men get pregnant once the women all go on strike, and they can all have Cesarean sections.

  26. how very interesting. being able to perform surgeries on people is amazing, but performing them with banana wine is a miracle. all i have to say is: i’m glad it wasn’t me.

  27. Do you know why it’s called a caesarean section? That’s been driving me nuts for a while. Does it have anything at all to do with Julius? Augustus? Sid?

    Sid. Definitely Sid.

  28. Brings back memories of 18 hours of waiting, back and forth pacing until finally the baby’s heart rate was so low the doctor decided on a cesarean to get it over with quick.
    Quick! He interlocked his fingers around its head and yanked so hard I thought it would snap off. I’ll never forget it.
    You can’t see the scar though. Perfect job. And no birth canal ravages in sight. 🙂

  29. Thanks for the comment on my blog – not sure if you got my response – definitely recommend the movie…

    your blog is so interesting… will definitely pop back… and loved what you said about having a gay son!!! Loved it!

  30. Hi Clive – welcome to the Gimcrack. you can check out my son’s website too if you like

  31. They are an instrument that have stood the test of time I see. But what I want to know is where can I score some banana wine.

  32. you can make your own if you’re extremely patient 🙂

  33. The V-man required the use of forceps. Only…it’s not the same piece of equipment as was used when I was born. The doc used what looks like a plunger on Van. Literally suction-cupped it to the top of his head (as he was quite stuck). And YES….put his foot on the table for leverage….and pulled. POP….goes the weasel! 😉

  34. doesn’t that leverage thing just crack you up?

  35. I see your son links back to here on his DJ site — do people just love it when he says “that’s me Mum”?

  36. I don’t think many people click on that link sledpress. He just put it there for fun. Or to make me happy perhaps 🙂

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