The largest cause of death of mothers and babies in my family tree was, in the 19th century, which eclipses all causes from anything else, was Puerperal Fever.
Puerperal Fever became an epidemic after male midwives, later-to-be-called obstetricians, ran the lay women midwives out of town, and took over. These men, new to this natural function of life didn’t have the sense to know about something called hygiene and handwashing, which ironically, midwives did! But the men though, “What do women know anyway!” They also insisted that all women have their babies at rat-infested filthy hospitals to make things easier for themselves. They went from bed to bed without washing hands, in filthy clothing, and sometimes after dealing with people who had died from infections. Very quickly, these hospitals were the topic of cartoons with the grim reaper’s ghost stalking the corridors. Where possible, women went to great lengths to stay out of these death traps.
Drs Semmelweis, Oliver Wendel Holmes and other doctors of the time who demanded doctors wash hands and clean up their surroundings, were run out of town, and the death rates continued, and were still occurring, at a decreasing rate up to the first world war. It took the medical profession that long to get the message. Ironically, in recent years, puerperal fever is on the rise again, and for exactly the same reasons. Medical complacency about the very basics of hygiene.
Don’t you cringe when some medical “expert” tells us that life expectancy today, is so much better than it was in 1880, because of vaccines? Anyone whose family tree contains the sort of desecration that mine does in that century can clearly see that BEFORE the advent of obstetricians, our family had a pretty good life expectancy.
Life expectancy for the 19th century was the lowest in my family tree, and plummeted much lower that the life expectancy in the 18th century. As a result of Puerperal Fever, many mothers and baby’s lives were unnecessarily sacrificed at the alter called “Doctors’ pride”.
After 1900, with the exception of wars, the life expectancy on both my mother and father’s side was excellent. And it had not one jot to do with baby vaccines, or adult vaccines for that matter.
The change in life expectancy in our family tree is directly related to Puerperal Fever, and wars. And perhaps, those factors just might apply in your family tree too.
Doctors apparently don’t want you to know that, or think about the way in which they manipulate life expectancy data to suit themselves, and make you believe that the large increase is all to do with them. It’s not. It’s primarily due to Sanitation, clean water, better access to a greater range of food. Only 3% of death decline can be attributed to the medical profession, and that’s 97% due to everything else.
I do have to concede one point. While my mother and father both came from middle class families, they came from families which took great pride in fully educating daughters, a rare thing between 1500 to 1900. I come from a family which had an extensive knowledge of gardening, hunting, fishing, decent home nursing, cooking, etc. In fact, they had a much broader range of skills than I have. So called “progress” actually means that my stupidity quotient is much greater than that of my ancestors.
My father’s family in particular were scared of nothing, travelling the globe through the centuries, to places like India, China etc… places where people literally quake in their shoes about going to today … until they’ve had those magic vaccines to make sure they come home from a two week quick trip, in one piece.
When I look at the adventures of both my mother’s family and my father’s I wonder at the arrogance of the medical profession today, in their attempt to make parents in 2008 so scared. Today, we do have sanitation, clean water etc, and NONE of the risks which my ancestors had to take between 1500 to 1920. But the only way they can pull the wool over the eyes of new mothers and hypnotise them into believing a lie, is because Social History down through the ages, relating to day to day living conditions, is the last subject which youngsters take any interest in at school.
With the exception of wars, and medically induced Puerperal fever, most of my ancestors lived vaccine-free, long and healthy lives.Amazing, isn’t it. So how about your ancestors from 1500 onwards?