Chamberlen-type obstetrical forceps, Europe, 1680-1750
The Chamberlen family escaped religious persecution in France to settle in England in 1569. Peter (the Elder) Chamberlen (d. 1631) is thought to have invented the obstetrical forceps. Other family members modified the original design. The Chamberlens were among the early ‘man-midwives’. They became famous for dealing with difficult births, but the forceps were a family secret for over 100 years. The forceps were common knowledge by the 1730s yet took time to be used extensively. Obstetrical forceps grip a baby’s head during difficult labours to help delivery. This example is made from steel.
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A branch of medicine dealing with the care of women. This care occurs during pregnancy, childbirth, and the period of recovery from childbirth.
Glossary: obstetrical forceps
An instrument used to assist the delivery of a foetus, usually during a birth where complications have developed. Numerous variations have been developed over time. The fundamental design has two separate looped blades with handles. These interlock to form a grasping instrument.