This section is from the book "The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine. Volume 2.", by J. H. Kellogg, M.D.. Also available from Amazon: The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine, Volume 2.
The employment of anaesthetics in childbirth is a practice of very recent date. When it was first introduced, many fears were expressed that harm would result to either mother or child, or both. Some opposed the measure on moral grounds, claiming that the pains of child-birth were part of the curse pronounced upon Eve, and that the use of anaesthetics for the purpose of mitigating the pain was preventing execution of the penalty. Notwithstanding the opposition, however, some form of anaesthetic, generally chloroform, is now very largely used, especially in prolonged and unusually painful labors. If the patient is strong and vigorous, and the labor is not unusually severe, there is no occasion for the use of the anaesthetic; but if the contrary of this is true, there is no question but benefit, as well as comfort, may be derived from the judicious use of chloroform. It is unnecessary to produce profound anaesthesia, or to bring the patient fully under the influence of the drug, and hence there is little or no danger of immediate injury to the patient. Neither have those opposed to the use of chloroform been able to show that injury results to the child. It should never be used, however, without the advice and constant supervision of the physician.