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Aveling-type obstetrical forceps, London, 1871-1900

James Hobson Aveling (1828-98) invented this type of forceps. They are made from steel with an ebony handle. Obstetrical forceps gripped a baby’s head to help delivery during difficult childbirths. Aveling thought a curved handle rather than a straight one would improve grip and make the forceps easier to insert into the body. However, his idea did not work well and the forceps were not widely used. Aveling also promoted the use of chloroform during childbirth.

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    Glossary: obstetrics

    A branch of medicine dealing with the care of women. This care occurs during pregnancy, childbirth, and the period of recovery from childbirth.

    Glossary: chloroform

    A liquid formerly used as a general anaesthetic although no longer used for this purpose as it causes liver damage and affects the heart rate. It is now used in low concentration to treat flatulence.

    Glossary: obstetrical forceps

    An instrument used to assist the delivery of a foetus, usually during a birth where complications have developed. Numerous variations have been developed over time. The fundamental design has two separate looped blades with handles. These interlock to form a grasping instrument.