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Childbirth and Obstetrics in Ancient Rome

Latin 2 Project

Khathalena Hin

on 21 October 2014

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Transcript of Childbirth and Obstetrics in Ancient Rome

During the classical antiquity women were practiced in medicine, but only restricted to the practical area for women back then, Gynecology and Obstetrics. Even though males dominated in being the physicians that didnt stop women from practicing anyway. Agnodice was an example, legend states that she dressed up as a man to practice medicine as a doctor.
Women as doctors
Caesarian Sections
Primary Sources
Today we have medicines and hospitals prepared for giving child birth for expectant mothers. Back then they didn't have the surgical tools or modern day technology to help assist labor. We still use the same procedure for delivery of the baby, head first.
The word Caesarian most likely derived from the name of Julius Caesar because it was told that he was supposedly delivered this way. The practice is probably older than Caesar though, these "C-Sections" were mostly preformed by Romans in order to either save a dying child or already dead mother. In which they would perform a post-mortem. It is most believed that this practice did happen but they just weren't many records of the topic.
Modern Labors Today
Childbirth & Obstetrics during the classical period
Childbirth and obstetrics has been observed by many Greek and Roman physicians. The practice and idea originally came from the midwives from the ancient world. Obstetrics is the branch of medicine that deals with the pregnancy, labor, and the aftermath of child birth. During this time period, surgical intervention was invented yet, but without the surgical technology an alternative was needed. Soranus, a physician in the 2nd century CE, first wrote a text on gynecology describing the medical procedures of a midwife.
Soranus was a greek gynecologist, obstetrician, and pediatrician during the 2nd century in Alexandria and Rome. His set of writings concerning women's diseases, pregnancy, and infant care has set a big amount of medical opinions. His work on Midwifery and the Diseases of Women includes many descriptive measures of concepts; one being how the chair would look for a mother in labor and the podalic version of childbirth. (Pulling the baby out by the feet).
Soranus of Ephesus
Hospitals didn't exist back then so the delivery of a child would take place in the home of the expectant mother and family. Along side the mother there would be a midwife and a few assistants. Child bearing was a religious belief in Rome and Greece. Women would summon the goddess Artemis, who had the power to grant and take away life. And they assumed that Apollo would be in position of the midwife. If the mother were to die during the process, her clothes were to be brought to the temple of Artemis, if successful her clothes would still be sacrificed. Herbs and other plants were used heavily in the birthing process. Soranus described three stages to pregnancy: conception, keeping the male seed in the womb; pica, the 40 days of pregancy that included symptoms of sickness and cravings; and pregnancy, in prep for labor women would bathe in wine and sweet-water bathes to keep her mind calm. During labor, the mother would lay on her back on a hard low bed with support under her hips. Her thighs parted with feet drawn up. When ready to give birth, the mother would move to a birthing stool, where the normal headfirst procedure then body of the baby would pull out.
Labor and Delivery
Childbirth & Obstetrics
Full transcript