Born From A Dead Woman

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Could we envisage coffin birth like in the Middle Ages?

Submitted: May 27, 2010

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Submitted: May 27, 2010

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Could there be anything more horrible, more scaring than being buried alive? To wake up and find oneself confined to a coffin? What about being born of a dead woman lying in her coffin? For a grown-up that sounds awful, but if it really happened the newborn baby wouldn't sense the difference and soon he or she would die from lack of oxygen.
These days of modern medical knowledge it wouldn't even happen as the fetus either dies with its mother or, in accidents or sudden deaths like in heart attacks, is delivered at once from her dead body by a Caesarian. However, in the Middle Ages a pregnant woman was buried with the equipment for welcoming a newborn baby. It may sound as if our forefathers were rather dumb to believe that a dead woman was able to give birth, but as dead babies were found in the graves of dead women they had good cause to think so. The rationale for these strange postmortem births - and I've seen some of these burials in Medical museums as well as in Abbey churchyards - is that naturally expanding gases build up in the abdomen of the dead woman and presses on her uterus, thus forcing an unborn child out the only way there is: Through the birth canal. That means that a corpse gives birth to another corpse and that both may be found many years later like in e.g. some of the Abbey churchyards of my country, Denmark.
What speaks against modern cases is our burial traditions of e.g. embalment and cremation and  that such a coffin birth could take several weeks to happen. However, in a way, theoretically, now there really is a new, modern kind of coffin birth: If a pregnant woman dies in a hospital and the unborn, but still living child within her is to be delivered alive, but the fetus is too young to be born, her dead body has to be kept artificially "alive" on life support: The heart, the lungs, etc. have to be kept functional of this dead woman. Something that can't be too easy - or exactly cheap. Also one may discuss whether it's up to ethical standards to do so.


http://www.enotes.com/forensic-science/coffin-birth

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