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Child Midwives

Small hands.
  [vote for,

I recently read a pretty harrowing story set at the collapse of civilization. In it a woman dies after 2 weeks of obstructed labor. Once, this sort of thing was not uncommon. The problem is that the baby is way in there, and slippery, and it is hard to get a grip on the baby's head to help pull it out. The obstetric forceps was invented to aid delivery in the case of obstructed labor. Suppose you were trying to help a woman with obstructed labor after the collapse of civilization or in the 1500s and had no forceps or other medical facilities of any sort. How could you help her?

I was impressed about the story of the chinese giant Bao who was summoned to help retrieve a foreign object from the stomach of a sick river dolphin. They called him because he had long arms. I wonder, if one if a 5 or 6 year old with small hands could replicate the forceps, reaching in to grab the head and ease the baby out.

Thinking about how this might be faciliated, the child midwife could have clean (clean!) strips of rawhide tied around the fingers, to improve grip on a slipperly baby head.

bungston, Apr 02 2010

Forceps history http://www.med.yale.../obgyntemplate.html
[bungston, Apr 02 2010]

Diary of an interesting year. http://www.newyorke...1fi_fiction_simpson
This is a gripping and truly harrowing tale. I am still thinking and worrying about it. Do not read it if such things might haunt you. Contains biting. [bungston, Apr 02 2010]

Bao the Chinese giant saves river dolphins with his long arms http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6178659.stm
You can't beat an arm and a hand for this sort of work. [bungston, Apr 02 2010]

Lost art http://www.jpgmonli...ge=8;aulast=Chauhan
[mouseposture, Apr 03 2010]

Veterinary Gloves http://www.qcsupply...ble+Gloves+(JorVet)
As you might imagine, these are quite long for obstetrically examining large mammals. [jurist, Apr 03 2010]

Humboldt Squid http://en.wikipedia...wiki/Humboldt_squid
Not notably altruistic. [8th of 7, Apr 03 2010]


       This is an extremely odd idea. I'm not saying it's not good or wise or humane, just extremely odd. Odd, odd, oddington odd, with odd-sauce and a side-order of Odd with extra Odd. Odd.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 02 2010

       That's not to mention how odd the idea is.
rcarty, Apr 03 2010

       Might have saved Tristam Shandy's nose. Not so odd, in those days.   

       There used to be something called "version gloves," which were surgical gloves that went up to the elbow, for reaching into the uterus and rearranging the baby. I don't think they're available any more; hard to find an Ob/Gyn who knows how to do an internal version, even in poorer parts of the world <link>.
mouseposture, Apr 03 2010

       [mouseposture], I'm not familiar with "version gloves", but veterinary doctors frequently use a long latex or poly glove (up to 90 cm/35+ inches) for obstetric examinations. Perhaps that is what you are thinking of, although it doesn't do anything to diminish the size of the vet's hands. <link>
jurist, Apr 03 2010

       [jurist] Yup, that's the item I had in mind. My point (inasmuch as I had one, apart from feeling smug about dredging up a bit of obscure terminology) was that, even in humans 1) getting a hand in there really is useful, sometimes and 2) usefulness is in inverse proportion to availability of more modern techniques. So, agreeing with [bungston], essentially: I think in a pre-industrial setting, the idea makes good sense.
mouseposture, Apr 03 2010

       raccoons or, for the more natural underwater birthing, octupi.
FlyingToaster, Apr 03 2010

       Might or might not work for the mother-to-be. I dread to think what it might do to the child-midwife.
wagster, Apr 03 2010

       // octupi //   

       But not Humboldt squid. They're carnivorous.   

8th of 7, Apr 03 2010

       Why the distinction, [1/8/7]? Don't octupi also eat crabs, snails, mollusks, fish and other octopi?
jurist, Apr 04 2010

       Humboldt squid are notably aggressive, and have been known to attack divers.   

       Octupi, other squid and particularly cuttlefish are curious and inquisitive but tend to flee rather than attack creatures many times their size. They will tolerate humans nearby; Humbolts won't.   

       Most of the cephalopods are quite intelligent and display reasoning ability. It should not be impossible to train them to perform medical tasks. With the growing popularity of "water births" an appropriate aquatic operating environment is already available.
8th of 7, Apr 04 2010

       Indeed - the first and most vital part of any doctor's training should be to learn how to mimic a small edible flatfish at a moment's notice; who knows where and when the necessity will arise ?
8th of 7, Apr 04 2010

       Not the first by any means. Best to start with sessile molluscs, and work up gradually to teleosts. (Learning to be inconspicous, in the presence of predators, actually *is* an early, vital part of a doctor's training.)
mouseposture, Apr 04 2010

       Yes, we said that already.
8th of 7, Apr 04 2010


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