Birthing Life and Death: Carioca Women’s Reproductive Health in the Early Twentieth Century

Cassia Roth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article explores women’s reproductive health in early twentieth-century Rio de Janeiro. It shows that elevated and sustained stillbirth and maternal mortality rates marked women’s reproductive years. Syphilis and obstetric complications during childbirth were the main causes of stillbirths, while puerperal fever led maternal death rates. Utilizing traditional sources like medical dissertations and lesser-used sources including criminal investigations, this article argues that despite official efforts to medicalize childbirth and increase access to clinical healthcare, no real improvements in women’s reproductive health occurred in the first half of the twentieth century. This, of course, did not make pregnancy and childbirth any easier for the women who embodied these statistics in their reproductive lives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)921-941
Number of pages20
JournalHistoria, Ciencias, Saude – Manguinhos
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2018

Keywords

  • childbirth
  • reproductive health
  • stillbirth
  • maternal mortality
  • Rio de Janeiro

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