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The Works of Thomas Denman, Manmidwife


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By Jill—Unnecesarean


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This manuscript of the medical works of Thomas Denman, M.D., was written between 1769 and 1773 while Denman held the positions of “Physician Manmidwife to the Middlesex Hospital and Teacher of Midwifery in London.”


  • Aphorisms respecting the distinction and management of preternatural presentations
  • Aphorisms on uterine hemorrhages
  • Directions for the application of the forceps
  • Essay on the puerperal fever
  • On the retroversion of the fetus

Flipping through the pages (very carefully) was fascinating, but the penmanship makes it about as easy to read as my medical records.




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Reader Comments (6)

Well I should write him a thank you card for writing on how to stick giant tongs into a woman's vagina. Where would we be without vagina tongs?

(I hope the sarcasm is implied, but it's early-ish and my coffee hasn't kicked in...)

November 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

They're better than a craniotomy. Routine forceps is a different story.

November 18, 2010 | Registered CommenterJill

"preternatural presentations"? Is that foreshadowing for the vampire cesarean?

November 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDana

My second daughter was delivered in a midforceps rotation delivery , called a "Scanzoni rotation." She has a masters degree now, so if it harmed her it wasn't greatly. (I did wonder about it when she had trouble learning her multipication tables.....) This saved me from a second C section. I do believe that it was obstetric malfeasance in the first birth that got me in the position of possibly needing the forceps in the second birth (the stories are on this site), still I think having OB's skilled with forceps around would aid in decreasing C sections. I think that to get the C section rate down into the 5% range where it used to be would require that forceps be used sometimes.
I could be wrong about this as my knowledge base is inadequate to have a truly informed opinion in this matter.
Susan Peterson

November 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Peterson

Re "preternatural" -Since "praeter" in Latin means

praeter adv, beyond, after
praeter "adj., except; prep. + acc., besides, beyond

I think preternatual in this context simple meant "other than natural" or "other than usual or ordinary."

But it is funny when you let the word take the meaning we now usually have for it.

November 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Peterson

After 3 hrs of pushing my firstborn (he came down the birth canal with his arm in front of his face) I was given the option of forceps or c-section. I chose forceps. Yes, I had a huge episiotomy and a lot of vaginal trauma, and if I had chosen the C-section I may have had a quicker recovery, but I would have put myself and my future pregnancies at risk. I went on to have 2 uneventful vaginal deliveries. Forceps, when used appropriately, can be a lifesaver. It's like the difference between an unnecessary c-section and a true emergency.

November 19, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterchristine
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