Send to

Choose Destination
Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 2007 Oct;47(5):357-61.

A history of caesarean section: from ancient world to the modern era.

Author information

Brisbane Clinic, 79 Wickham Terrace, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.


Caesarean section has been recorded in history since ancient times in both Western and non-Western literature. Although the first use of the term in obstetrics was from the seventeenth century, its early history is obscured by mythology. The origin of the term caesarean is believed to be from the birth of Julius Caesar; however, this is unlikely considering his mother Aurelia Cotta lived for many years afterwards. In ancient times, it was performed only when the woman was dead or dying as an attempt to rescue the fetus. With few exceptions, this was the pattern until the era of anaesthesia in the nineteenth century. Developments in surgical technique from the later nineteenth century and through the twentieth century have refined the procedure, with resulting low morbidity and mortality. As a consequence, the objectives of caesarean section have evolved from rescuing the fetus or for cultural or religious reasons towards concerns for the safety of mother and child as well as considering the mother's preferences.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center