Jesse Bennett, sometimes spelled Bennet, practiced medicine in the US during the late eighteenth century and performed one of the first successful cesarean operations, later called cesarean sections, in 1794. Following complications during his wife’s childbirth, Bennett made an incision through her lower abdomen and uterus to deliver their infant. Bennett’s biographers report that his operation was the first cesarean section where both the pregnant woman and the infant survived. Previously, physicians used cesarean sections to save the fetus from a pregnant woman who had already died during childbirth. Bennett successfully performed a cesarean section, a procedure used worldwide in the twenty-first century when a vaginal delivery is not possible or would pose a risk to the woman or fetus.

In 1861, William John Little published, “On The Influence of Abnormal Parturition, Difficult Labors, Premature Birth, and Asphyxia Neonatorum, on the Mental and Physical Condition of the Child, Especially in Relation to Deformities,” hereafter “Abnormal Parturition,” in the Transactions of the Obstetrical Society of London. In the article, Little discussed the causes and types of what he refers to as abnormal births, and theorized how those births affect an infant’s likelihood of exhibiting a deformity. Little defined abnormal births as those involving an atypical maternal or fetal presentation, such as a slow birthing process or a fetus exiting the birth canal feet first rather than head first. In his article, Little published one of the first definitional frameworks to describe a condition causing rigidity and stiffness in the limbs that is often associated with birth-related trauma, which was then called Little’s disease, but is modernly known as spastic Cerebral Palsy.

William John Little was one of the first orthopedic surgeons to research congenital malformations and their causes in the nineteenth century and presented preliminary research on a condition modernly known as cerebral palsy, a condition of varying severity that affects a person’s ability to move. Little worked throughout the United Kingdom for the majority of the time he practiced medicine, and eventually founded one of the first orthopedic infirmaries, the Royal Orthopedic Hospital in London, England. Throughout his career, Little studied congenital malformations, which are medical conditions inherited before birth, as well as how certain medical circumstances during delivery affect the neonate. In 1861, he described a condition with motor, behavioral, and cognitive irregularities in neonates, linked with oxygen deprivation during birth. Little’s research on that condition, originally called Little’s disease, and modernly, spastic cerebral palsy, was one of the first accounts of cerebral palsy in infants.

In 1999, Joseph Bruner, Susan B. Drummond, Anna L. Meenan, and Ina May Gaskin published, “All-fours Maneuver for Reducing Shoulder Dystocia During Labor,” in the medical journal, Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey. In the article, the authors described a birthing technique named the all-fours maneuver, or the Gaskin maneuver, and explained its effectiveness in treating fetal shoulder dystocia as compared to other maneuvers. Shoulder dystocia occurs when the neonate’s head has exited the vaginal canal, but the shoulders get stuck behind the woman’s pelvic bone, which prevents the birth of the neonate’s body. Healthcare practitioners’ use of previous methods to dislodge the fetal shoulders sometimes resulted in fetal and maternal injury. The all-fours maneuver differed from previous methods by positioning the laboring woman on her hands and knees rather than on her back. Through the article, the authors established the all-fours maneuver as a safe, fast, and effective technique for reducing shoulder dystocia.

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