Depiction of an operation in 1884
This image comes from an article by Robert Felkin, ‘Notes on
Labour in Central Africa', published in the 'Edinburgh Medical
Journal' in 1884. Felkin spent two years in central Africa and
witnessed the operation, reporting that "The mother was liberally
supplied with banana wine, which was also used to wash the
operator's hands and her abdomen. A single rapid lower midline
incision opened her abdominal wall and her uterus. Bleeding points
were cauterized with a hot iron. After delivery her abdomen was
closed with seven thin iron spikes. The baby was put to her breast
2 hours later. Both mother and baby did well." Other travellers in
the region witnessed caesareans being carried out quite regularly.
In Europe at this time, they were very rare and usually resulted in
the mother's death.