Hey, I guess people have known about that cutting entry in the index to an obstetrics text for a good long while. Here’s an article on the book and general ob-gyn attitudes, in which we learn that the indexer was … the author’s wife! I guess she’d know. But doctors know better now, right?
Recall that preeclampsia was once called toxemia because it was thought to be a build-up of toxins in the maternal blood that had not been secreted through the normal monthly purification of the menstrual cycle. Miscarriages must be caused by the woman doing something she shouldn’t have done, like picking up a bag of groceries. Bottle feeding was superior to breast feeding because men had used science to outsmart the female breast. In fact, for about half of the twentieth century, obstetrics consisted of rendering pregnant women unconscious, cutting a procto-episiotomy, and ripping the child out with forceps. Sounds very efficient and modern. [Yikes. That’s how I was born.]
But surely we don’t think this way today. Have you ever recommended that a woman be on bed rest for any condition in pregnancy? Have you ever mocked a woman with a birth plan? Have you ever told a woman to “take it easy”? Do you believe that a Cesarean delivery is an improvement over vaginal delivery? Do you believe that when women suffer from depression or anxiety it is related to abnormal hormone levels? Much of the worldview of modern obstetric practiced was formed with the belief that women were inept and incapable and that science needed to fix them. Think about that next time you integrate old myths into your practice.