In 1980 the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) released a report titled, “National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Conference Statement September 22–24, 1980.” The report lists recommendations for birth delivery through cesarean sections, a surgical procedure used to deliver the fetus via the pregnant woman’s abdomen. The recommendations arose from the 1980 Consensus Development Conference on Cesarean Childbirth in Bethesda, Maryland. Medical professionals, consumers, and biomedical research scientists attended the conference, and the NIH’s taskforce on the subject helped facilitate discussions regarding the safety of cesarean sections. The NIH taskforce concluded that cesarean section rates can be decreased and possibly reversed in addition to improving maternal and fetal outcomes and provided recommendations for future research on cesarean sections.

Margaret Ann Bulkley, under the male pseudonym James Barry, was one of the first female obstetricians in early nineteenth century British Empire. She was the first person to perform a cesarean section in South Africa. Cesarean section is a procedure in which a doctor cuts into the uterus of a pregnant woman to retrieve the fetus during complicated births. Bulkley hid her gender and lived life as the male Barry to practice medicine, an opportunity not allowed to women at the time. Barry's position as a Medical Inspector with the British Army enabled her to travel the world as a physician and to practice surgical techniques including the removal of fetuses during complicated births.

In 1916 Edwin B. Cragin in the United States published Conservatism in Obstetrics in which he discussed medical practices and techniques to preserve the vitality of pregnant women and their fetuses. Cragin argued that women who give birth via cesarean section, the surgical act of making an incision through both the abdomen and uterus to remove the fetus from a pregnant woman's womb, must rely on that method for future births. That claim was later coined the Dictum of Cragin. In Conservatism in Obstetrics, Cragin described obstetric techniques to maintain healthy births for women and fetuses. Cragin's article outlined the best practices for obstetricians in the early twentieth century, and publicized the claim that if a woman delivers a newborn via cesarean section, she should deliver any future newborn via the same method, a theory that persisted throughout the century.