16th-century caesarean birth

16th-century caesarean birth

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Credit: CORDELIA MOLLOY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Caesarean birth. 16th-century woodcut of a child being born by caesarean section. A live infant is being surgically removed from the womb of a dead woman. This woodcut was published in Venice in a 1506 edition of a book written in 121 by the Roman historian Suetonius: De vita duodecim Caesarum (Lives of the Twelve Caesars). It is one of the earliest surviving illustrations of a caesarean birth. Stories of caesarean births date back thousands of years, but were mostly performed to remove babies from women who had died during childbirth. It was not until the late 19th century that the mother could hope to survive such an operation.

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