This is the first international study of maternal care and maternal mortality. Over the last two hundred years, different countries developed quite different systems of maternal care. Death in Childbirth is a meticulously researched analysis, firmly grounded in the available statistics, of the evolution of those systems between 1800 and 1950 in Britain, the USA, Australia and New Zealand, and on the continent of Europe.
Irvine Loudon examines the effectiveness of various forms of maternal care by means of the measurement of maternal mortality - the number of women who died as a result of childbirth. His scholarly and comprehensive study sets out to answer a number of important questions. What was the relative risk of a home or hospital delivery, or a delivery by a midwife as opposed to a doctor? What was the safest country in which to have a baby, and what were the factors which accounted for enormous international differences? Why, against all expectations, did maternal mortality fail to decline significantly until the late 1930s? Death in Childbirth makes an invaluable contribution to medical and social history.
`Loudon's acute awareness of his subject's complexity and his sensitivity give the writing a wonderful suppleness and restraint. ... An expensive book worth every penny, it is one which lactation consultants and all those interested in maternal and child health issues today should own, read, and ponder.'
J Hum Lact 9(4) 1993
`Thanks to this work we can now begin to question many common assumptions about the causes of maternal mortality. Death in Childbirth surely deserves to become the standard reference work on the subject.'
Ornella Moscucci, British Medical Journal
`Given the complexity of the subject, it is inevitable that this carefully researched book should still raise many questions. Loudon marshals the facts with confidence and skill; his lucid and lively style is captivating, and even the numerically illiterate will have no difficulty in understanding the statistical arguments. Death in Childbirth surely deserves to become the standard reference work on the subject.'
Ornella Moscucci, Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, British Medical Journal
`Death in Childbirth is a major achievement, and should be read by anyone interested in the history of women's relations with the medical profession ... it is a great advantage to have so much material brought together and presented in such an elegant style.'
Times Literary Supplement
`Loudon's impressive volume explores the causes and trends of maternal mortality...we need hard statistics. Loudon provides these in abundance, in a feat of dexterity and clarity that continues through some 600 pages..."Death In Childbirth" without doubt magnificently achieves its goal of comparing rates and causes of maternal mortality internationally...Representing the best sort of history, his book provides us with a mountain of carefully
presented evidence and leaves us with much food for thought' Times Higher
'This is a complex book, which would be an essential reference for anyone attempting to under-take serious work in the field: it is also a text worth browsing through, however, since Loudon writes with a conviction that is persuasive and engaging.' Nursing Times
'splendid study ... Loudon marshals the facts with confidence and skill; his lucid and lively style is captivating, and even the numerically illiterate will have no difficulty in understanding the statistical arguments. Death in Childbirth surely deserves to become the standard reference work on the subject.'
Onella Moscucci, British Medical Journal, Volume 306, May 1993
'This is a complex book, which would be an essential reference for anyone attempting to undertake serious work in the field; it is also a text worth browsing through, however, since Loudon writes with a conviction that is persuasive and engaging.
The book would certainly be very well worth including in all nursing, midwifery and medical libraries.
Soo Downe, Nursing Times, June 1993
`...splendid study of maternal mortality in various countries from 1800 to 1950.'
`...carefully researched book...'
`Thanks to this work we can now begin to question many common assumptions about the causes of maternal mortality. Loudon marshals the facts with confidence and skill; his lucid and lively style is captivating, and even the numerically illiterate will have no difficulty in understanding the statistical arguments. Death in Childbirth surely deserves to become the standard reference work on the subject' British Medical Journal
'Irvine Loudon's study is both an informative compendium of information about maternal mortality, and a sensitive and persuasive analysis of statistical evidence, medical opinion from the past, and life histories. For a social historian, this hefty "read" of more than six hundred pages was sometimes shocking but always engrossing and enlightening. This is an impressively complete and passionately written book that presents a tragic story, well told.'
Louise A. Tilly New School for Social Research BHM 1994 68
'This is a monumental study of an extremely important subject. No future study of the history of childbirth anywhere in the world will be able (or will want) to ignore the wealth of material presented within these pages... this study will form the benchmark for the next generation of scholars.
Judith Walzer Leavitt, Social History of Medicine, Vol. 7, No. 1, 1994
`Louden's focus is much wider than materanl mortality: he uses mortality as a lens through which to explore the history of childbirth. Loden opens with a dramatic and moving individual story, thus rightly establishing personal maternal experience as the context in which to situate materanl mortality and its medical interpretation...no summary can do this book justice.'
Gender and History
`This is a wholly satisfying book, judicious, comprehensive and passionate ... This book should be required reading for all medical students.'
List of figures
List of tables
Part I. The Measurement of Maternal Mortality
1: The measurement of maternal mortality
2: Problems of measuring maternal mortality
Part II. The Causes of Maternal Mortality
3: The determinants of maternal mortality
4: Puerperal fever
5: Toxaemia of pregnancy and eclampsia
6: Obstetric haemorrhage
8: Other causes of maternal mortality
Part III: Maternal Care and Maternal Mortality in Various Countries
9: The importance of international comparisons
10: Maternal mortality in pre-registration England
11: The eighteenth-century and the origins of man-midwifery
12: Maternal care in nineteenth-century Britain
13: Maternal care in Britain 1900-1935
14: Maternal mortality in Britain from 1850 to the mid-1930s
15: Maternal care and maternal mortality in Britain 1935-1950
16: The geography and politics of maternal care in the USA: Introduction
17: Home deliveries and the general practitioner
18: The American midwife
19: The American lying-in hospital
20: Attitudes to childbirth and the problem of pain
21: The orgy of interference
22: Maternal mortality in the USA
23: Europe: Introduction
24: European midwives
25: European lying-in hospitals and obstetricians
26: Maternal care and maternal mortality in selected European countries
27: Australia and New Zealand
28: Maternal and infant mortality