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What a Blessing She Had Chloroform

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 22 January 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:256
  1. Felicity Reynolds, emeritus professor of obstetric anaesthesia
  1. St Thomas's Hospital, London

    Donald Caton

    Yale University Press, £20, pp 300

    ISBN 0 300 07597 9

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    When her eldest daughter gave birth in 1859, Queen Victoria remarked, “What a blessing she had chloroform. Without it I think her strength would have suffered very much.” The Queen, an experienced mother, saw no controversy in the use of pain relief in labour. Yet the subject has continually been dogged by controversy (witches were burnt for it). Donald Caton, an eminent chronicler of the history of obstetric analgesia, has written a fascinating account of the social background to its evolution since the introduction of ether, then chloroform, to obstetrics by James …

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