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Obstetrical surgical instrument set in leather wallet, United Kingdom, 1831-1870

Obstetrical surgical instrument sets contained devices and tools for different applications depending on the circumstance. This set is mainly comprised of destructive instruments. It includes a perforator for piercing the child’s skull. There is also one pair of craniotomy forceps, made by Manchester-based instrument maker Wood. These gripped and crushed the skull. They were a last resort to extract a foetus from the mother’s body. This was only done when the foetus was dead or after a prolonged labour in which the mother’s life was at risk. The set is completed by one vaginal speculum for viewing the birth canal and a pewter syringe for injecting ointments into the mother.

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Glossary: surgical instrument set

Set of instruments to be used for surgery. A physician would often build up their own collection of favoured tools in order to feel as comfortable as possible when carrying out surgery.

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.