The third stage of pregnancy was viewed as a preparation for labor. With the absence of the kinds of medical drugs used today, the ancient Romans made up with scented oils and other home remedies. In this article, you will also get a chance to learn what was inside a midwife’s kit of ancient times.
Third Pregnancy Stage
During the third stage of pregnancy, women were allowed to exercise, eat more food, and sleep longer so that they could build up their strength. They believed this helped in preparation for the labor and birth of a child. The third pregnancy stage is the final wave of pre-natal attention that an ancient Roman woman received.
After the seventh month had passed, women decreased their level of physical exertion since the fetus was heavier and slowed the movement of the mother. To make it easier to deal with the added weight, women were outfitted with linen support bandages. If the mother exhibited an unsettled mind, she was set in a bath filled with wine and sweet-water. It was believed that such a bath would help calm the mind. To prevent the stretching of skin, the belly was rubbed with oil. The genitals were anointed with herbs. Softening oils, such as goose fat, were actually injected into the vagina.
Bringing Baby Into the World
Soranus was an ancient physician who practiced in Alexandria and Rome. He is regarded as the best source for ancient Roman about pregnancy and childbirth. He offers clear and succinct descriptions that have not been tainted with superstition or other beliefs. For example, we learn what items a midwife may have used during a normal labor and delivery of the typical ancient Roman woman. Delivery of a child should take place in a medium-sized room with moderate temperature. Typical items needed for the birth included:
Ã‚Â· Olive oil (clean and not previously used in cooking)
Ã‚Â· Warm water ointments that were applied to the body
Ã‚Â· soft sea sponges
Ã‚Â· pieces of wool bandages for swaddling the baby
Ã‚Â· A pillow to place the infant on
Ã‚Â· Similar to spirits of ammonia that are used to revive someone who has fainted, it was suggested to carry pennyroyal, dirt, barley, apples, quinces, lemons, melons, and cucumbers , to use in the same manner.
Ã‚Â· A stool or chair for the midwife to sit on. Midwives should own one, which is brought along when she visits the home of a mother in labor.
Ã‚Â· A hard bed for the mother to lay on during the labor
Ã‚Â· A soft bed for the mother to rest on after delivery
If the delivery of a child was normal, the cervical opening was stretched slightly, and the body of the baby was pulled out. Soranus instructed midwives to wrap their hands in pieces of cloth or thin papyrus so that they could get a better gripe on the slippery body of an infant. Midwives would also tend to the umbilical cord and gently remove the placenta immediately after the birth.