Life Begins



Readers of The Mercury are encouraged to join the newspaper in an incredible journey as it explores the human body with a special 12-part magazine series that begins in The Sunday Tasmanian this Sunday, 30 March.  Over the next few weeks, readers will be able to collect the 16-page color magazines in the Human Body series.  Titles in the series are:



On Wednesday, March 26, the Learning feature opens the series with a look at childbirth. Then on March 27, Learning will publish a special two-page, colour feature titled Life Begins, introducing the start of the special magazine series. Other special features will be published in The Mercury between now and April 7.




In ancient times children were born at home with the help of midwives, then wrapped tightly in bandages known as swaddling clothes, sometimes given to people other than their mother to be breastfed, with only a 50 per cent chance of surviving past their first birthday.


Medical science intervened with some failures but some amazing successes, with the result that most women now give birth in hospitals or have a trained medical professional present at the birth. But many women are choosing to give birth at home, bringing the history of childbirth full circle in all but the fatality rate. Who knows what trends will follow in the future.















Kill or Cure.

Some important dates in the history of childbirth.


Dying to have a baby - The History of Childbirth

Written by a Dr. Ian Carr this is an in depth analysis of some of the major problems with childbirth that were overcome by medical science.




Cambridge Illustrated History of Medicine

Roy Porter

A comprehensive look at medicine, including childbirth, throughout the centuries. (Cambridge University Press)


Midwife's Apprentice

Karen Cushman

A homeless waif named Brat roams the villages of 14th-century England, sleeping in dung heaps and begging for scraps. But then Brat meets Jane the midwife, the lady with the starched wimple who needs a helper. Brat becomes the midwife's apprentice, a person with a name and a place in the world. (Macmillan Children's Books)


Spare Body Parts and Other Weird Science

Royce Bond

A fun look at some of the medical and technological breakthroughs that are happening today with some predictions of what might happen in the near future, including growing foetuses outside a woman's body, and genetically engineering the perfect children. (Hodder Headline Australia)


Western Medicine: An Illustrated History

Irvine Loudon

Traces the story of medicine in the West from Ancient Greece to the present day. A team of distinguished medical historians describes the great landmarks of medical advancement and set them in their social and historical context. (Oxford University Press)