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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1992 Sep;167(3):581-7.

From Fanny to Fernand: the development of consumerism in pain control during the birth process.

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Division of Medical Humanities, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.


Obstetric anesthesia has been the object of public interest and patient advocacy from its introduction in the 1840s to the present. Early arguments concerned the significance of pain in childbearing and became a popular issue involving physicians, clergymen, and journalists. The first obstetric anesthesia, either, given in the United States was administered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1847. For the next several decades general anesthesia was the only feasible means of relieving labor pain. At the turn of the century a combination of scopolamine and morphine was introduced in the United States by a popular women's magazine; the National Twilight Sleep Association was launched. After the decline of this movement, the "natural" childbirth method came into national prominence. In spite of their differing pharmacologic characteristics, there are sociologic parallels between the patient advocacy of Twilight Sleep and that of psychoprophylaxis. This study focuses on the public perception of these movements, which were begun by physicians and subsequently endorsed by militant lay groups.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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