Essay on Safe Labours

Scope and Content

The manuscript is unbound and in two parts and it appears that there were originally more parts as the first page begins mid-sentence. Both sections have 22 folios, the first having no pagination and the second has the partial foliation ff.1-16. In both cases the writing is predominantly on the recto only.

The manuscript appears to be arguing for the dispensing of the crotchet and firstly addresses the different presentations of the child and the difficulties of delivering it. It then considers the use of the forceps, the scissors & crotchet [surgical instruments] and when it is appropriate to use them, smallest diameter through which a head can pass, symptoms that the child is dead, and delivering a dead child. Overall an argument is made that the use of the forceps is the safest option and that recourse to the use of the crotchet and the scissors should only be made when absolutely necessary owing to the great danger posed to both mother and child. Mention is made of the sectioning of the symphysis pubis which is quickly dismissed as being sanctioned by neither science nor humanity. Inducing premature labour, particularly in cases where women have a deformed pelvis, is then proposed as a safer and more successful alternative to perforation. The author then goes on to explain the means of measuring the pelvis and the brain to assess when this course of action might be necessary. The danger arising from the length of labour is also considered, and mention made of nature being better than instruments.