How do you measure a woman's pain? Historian Whitney Wood aims to find outHistorians in the News
tags: books, historians, research, womens history, medical history
Medical historian Whitney Wood first became interested in the history of women's pain through an undergraduate course that described the practice of "twilight sleep."
Wood, who is the new Canada Research Chair at Nanaimo, B.C.'s Vancouver Island University, says twilight sleep was a form of anesthesia that was popular in the early 20th century, administered to women in labour.
The drug mixture contained a blend of anesthetic and amnesia drugs. Labouring patients would still experience pain in giving birth, but the amnesiac part meant they didn't remember it.
At the same time, the drugs made women extremely excitable and sensitive to stimulation, prompting them to jump out of bed and injure themselves, Wood said.
This meant that the labouring mother would often have to wear a straitjacket and a blindfold to restrict stimulation and control her movements.
"From our modern perspective this sounds horrific ... but for many women in the early 20th century this was a good type of birth and women actively sought this out," Wood said. "My main question was why."
comments powered by Disqus
- Carl Reiner’s Life Should Remind Us: If You Like Laughing, Thank FDR And The New Deal
- A Teacher Held a Famous Racism Exercise in 1968. She’s Still at It.
- A Brief History of The Word ‘Redskin’ And How It Became a Source of Controversy
- Just How Little U.S. Students Learn About African American History — And Five Steps to Start to Change That
- Calling Racism A ‘Leftist Lie,’ White Vandals Target California Black Lives Matter Slogan
- When American Politics Turned Toxic (Review)
- Unions Are Essential for Eliminating Racism
- This Maine Governor Never Publicly Embraced the Klan, But He Never Disavowed its Support
- How a Lincoln-Douglass Debate Led to Historic Discovery
- Racist, Brutal Past or Hispanic History? Latinos Clash over Spanish Colonial Statues