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Obstetric phantom, Italy, 1701-1800

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Manipulating the cloth ‘baby’ in the womb of this almost life-size model of the female torso shows how birth takes place. It also shows how abnormal positions of the child affect the process. The wood and leather model was used to teach medical students, and possibly midwives, about childbirth. Using instruments to intervene in delivering a live child was still quite rare in the 1700s. Caesarean sections were rarely attempted. The obstetric phantom came from the Hospital del Ceppo in Pistoia, near Florence, Italy. This is one of the earliest hospitals in Europe, founded in 1277.

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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: obstetrical phantom

A life size model of a female pelvic region used to train medical students in child delivery.

Glossary: Caesarian section

A caesarean section is a common surgical procedure. Incisions are made through a pregnant woman's abdomen and uterus to deliver her baby.