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A Good Birth

Helen Castor reveals how the moment of labour and birth was one of the most dangerous times for a medieval woman, with no antiseptics or anaesthetics available.

For a medieval woman approaching the moment of labour and birth, there were no antiseptics to ward off infection or anaesthetics to deal with pain. Historian Helen Castor reveals how this was one of the most dangerous moments a medieval woman would ever encounter, with some aristocratic and royal women giving birth as young as 13. Birth took place in an all-female environment and the male world of medicine was little help to a woman in confinement. It was believed that the pains of labour were the penalty for the original sin of humankind - so, to get through them, a pregnant woman needed the help of the saints and the blessing of God himself.

1 hour

Last on

Tue 14 Aug 2018 02:00

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Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • Thomas Tallis

    Salvator Mundi

  • Dizzi Dulcimer


  • Dizzi Dulcimer


  • Maggie Sansome

    Mummers Tale


Role Contributor
Presenter Helen Castor
Series Producer Lucy Swingler
Director Lucy Swingler


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