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Deliver Me from Pain


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Table of Contents

Introduction: "Terrible Torture" or "The Nicest Sensation I've Ever Had"?: Conflicting Perceptions of Labor in U.S. History
1. Ether and Chloroform: The Question of Necessity, 1840s through 1890s
2. Twilight Sleep: The Question of Professional Respect, 1890s through 1930s
3. Developing the Obstetric Anesthesia Arsenal: The Question of Safety, 1900 through 1960s
4. Giving Birth to the Baby Boomers: The Question of Convenience, 1940s through 1960s
5. Natural Childbirth and Birth Reform: The Question of Authority, 1950s through 1980s
6. Epidural Anesthesia and Cesarean Section: The Question of Choice, 1970s to the Present
Glossary of Medical Terminology

About the Author

Jacqueline H. Wolf is a professor of the history of medicine and chair of the Department of Social Medicine at Ohio University and author of Don't Kill Your Baby: Public Health and the Decline of Breastfeeding in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. She is also the host of Conversations from Studio B, a monthly radio show on health and medicine that airs on the NPR affiliate in southeast Ohio, and was host for six years of Health Vision, a weekly show that aired on the local PBS affiliate.


It is sometimes difficult to reconcile the attitudes of contemporary thought with the historical event that is under consideration. As I closed the book, I was still uncertain about whether more anesthesia is better. But I am relieved that we live in an era in which it is no longer accepted that there is a physiological advantage to pain during labor. -- Samuel Lurie, M.D. New England Journal of Medicine I would recommend this book to health professionals who are committed to understanding and acknowledging that every woman experiences childbirth in an individual and unique manner. -- Carol Piercey Health and History It is perhaps Wolf's utter engagement with the material that is responsible for producing such a dynamic history. -- Cara Kinzelman Journal of the History of Biology Wolf opens her readers' eyes to the vast history that has layered the medical community's ignorance onto a persistent belief that childbirth is the worst pain a human will ever experience, then topped it off with a population's growing need to 'schedule' birth into our increasingly busy lives, and come up with a society... [that] should not-really, cannot-labor without numbing their bodies to the sensations of birth. Midwifery Today Much needed addition to the blossoming scholarly work on childbirth history. -- Randi Hutter Epstein, M.D. Women's Review of Books Wolf has written a fascinating overview of childbirth from the 1840s to the present day. In doing so she has used women's voices to advantage, letting them tell their own experiences. -- Wendy Mitchinson Medical History Wolf's unique focus on pain management brings a fresh perspective to the literature about childbirth and new understandings of this life-changing event in women's lives and histories. -- Rebecca M. Kluchin Bulletin of the History of Medicine Like many of the women she describes, Wolf has delivered a beautiful product that is both painless and joyful to encounter. -- Philip K. Wilson American Historical Review Deliver Me from Pain is an important addition to the literature, especially in the history of gender and pharmaceuticals... An absorbing and informative tale. -- Shannon K. Withycombe Pharmacy in History An important study of the choices made by other generations. For those who care about and study birth, understanding how we got here and why is imperative in considering where we go from here. -- Donna Harvel Balo CNM, ARNP, MS. Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health This book will be of great interest to scholars in the field, to young men and women researching their birth options, and to veterans of childbirth, wanting to understand their place in this fascinating history. -- Susan K. Rishworth Watermark

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