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Going through labour is an intense and painful process that can last anywhere from 8 to 18 hours. It was also very dangerous for women during the middle ages. The lack of medicine and healthcare led to many unnecessary deaths during childbirth, with numbers varying depending on location and family wealth. Fortunately, witchcraft is a respected field in this alternate history, and witchery is seen as a respectable trade among the population. A field of magic called Biomancy has been recently invented which is hoped will revolutionize medicine.

Biomancy is a form of magic that allows for the manipulation of certain biological energies and processes. Through this art, biomancers are capable of changing or influencing a change in the physical form of either themselves or others to limited extents. It allows for a number of things:

  1. Cellular Control - Granting immunity to poison and extreme temperatures.
  2. Regeneration - Healing injuries, regrowing parts over time, strengthening durability, and removing of fatigue.
  3. Fleshsculpting - Manipulating or shaping the body to limited extents.

Midwives take the form of witches who specialize in childbirth-focused Biomancy magic.

How can I use this form of magic to make labour less difficult and risky? At what point would it be most appropriate to apply these techniques?

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  • $\begingroup$ Two ideas, too shallow for an answer: 1) Do the same, medicine does, better/earlier. 2) Artificial womb. $\endgroup$ – Oleg Lobachev Jun 30 '18 at 23:17
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    $\begingroup$ Having watched my wife go through a pregnancy, I agree that the question is a bit too shallow. The answer is "find out what pregnancy is like, and then use magic to do the exact opposite." It is truly a marvel that nature managed to figure out a way to get one human out of another without breaking one of them.... any more than it had to break them. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Jun 30 '18 at 23:39
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    $\begingroup$ @CortAmmon "It is truly a marvel that nature managed to figure out a way to get one human out of another without breaking one of them.... any more than it had to break them." smbc-comics.com/comic/evolution-3 $\endgroup$ – Renan Jul 1 '18 at 6:49
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If you're able to safely shape the body to even a limited extent with your magic (point 3, you mention sculpting the body), you could probably widen the birth canal to some degree. It wouldn't take much to make it easier for the mother's body to push the baby out, and feet-first births would probably no longer be a medical emergency. If time spent in labor can be reduced to a couple of hours (instead of 10+), that's obviously more pleasant for the mother. You would, of course, have to restore the birth canal to its normal size afterwards, since widening it probably would have an effect on the hips and impair the ability to walk upright; that would for obvious reasons be problematic.

Your second point suggests conventional healing magic (closing wounds). This has some obvious applications for dealing with torn flesh during childbirth, allowing the mother to be back on her feet sooner; you'd also be able to counter the risk of the mother bleeding to death. In the event that a C-section is necessary despite all that your magic can do, this would give the mother a decent shot at survival (I'm not sure when this changed, but historically that operation was certain death for the mother), and again would also help her recover much faster. If your healing magic also deals with infections, that right there eliminates a lot of post-birth complications that can potentially kill the mother, so you've made it significantly safer for her.

Ultimately, though, most historical deaths in childbirth were the result of infections contracted while in labor that led to fatal complications. Most of these infections came from filth, especially dirty hands. So your single greatest help won't be from magic at all: just make sure your midwives know that cleanliness and sanitation are vitally important for good health.

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    $\begingroup$ Early C-sections went hand-in-hand with the death of the mother, but they were also, generally, reserved for cases where the mother was dead or dieing - Simply an attempt to save the child. The wikipedia article even speculates that there's reason to believe that some groups performed - and survived - them regularly. $\endgroup$ – Andon Jul 1 '18 at 2:05
  • $\begingroup$ I'd change "more pleasant" with "less painful". At least based on my concept of pleasant $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Jul 1 '18 at 20:11
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Several magical disciplines can produce effects similar to modern medical assistance.

  • Divination and prophecy can serve in place of an pre-delivery ultrasound.
  • Blood magic is probably more accurate than an a modern paternity test, with curses available to discourage paternal negligence.+
  • Sleep, Hypnosis, Enchantments, and Mental-Enslavement spells as well as my custom Hero Chant (which causes immunity to all physical pain) are all good substitutions for sedation and pain killers.
  • Wards and protection spells can banish bacteria from an area, providing a sterile field.
  • Just whatever you do, don't let the expectant mother near a Wish spell... or fathers will learn exactly how painful child birth can be!
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Such magic would finally make the centrifugal birth machine feasible!

US patent US3216423A describes a machine that uses a rotating bed to expose the baby to forces up to eight times that of the gravity of the Earth, in order to facilitate their exit from the womb. It looks like this:

Centrifugue assisted birth

You may now be thinking that this would cause the child to shoot out of the mother's belly like a bat out of hell. The inventors thought of that too; Notice the net between the mother's legs. It is there in order to catch the baby.

Now let's add magic. The idea is that a mechanomancer would use their magic to activate such a table (such magic is required because your world has dark age technology). If that was the whole of it, it would be quite traumatic to the mother and child, but hey, you can't make an omelet without a few broken bones. But this is where the biomancers take their cue.

The biomancers would use cellular control to make both mother and child's cells more full of water and fat. Water will add resistance to high G forces, and fat will protect against impact.

Flesh sculpting may widen the cervix, so that no C-section (it already existed in the dark ages) is needed - it would be impossible to perform in a gravity more than twice as strong as Jupiter's anyway. Flesh sculpting may also make the baby round as a ball so that the impact of birth is more evenly distributed throughout their body.

Finally, flesh sculpting is reversed and any damage dealt is reversed with regeneration.

The application of thinkamancy spells such as forget bad experience on the mother and child and let's never talk about this on the family members watching the staff do their magic is recommended to avoid long lasting mental trauma.

And that's it! Welcome to the world, child!

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    $\begingroup$ This is the most brilliant & disturbing answer that I've read in years! Not only is the patent real, its supporting text contains no signs of humor. They were serious! Mr. & Mrs Blonsky invested time and money to get this patent. Check out this article. I love the potential user quote... "I know most people think that machine is funny, and so do I, but, after 9 months, I'm really bored and tired of waiting for this birth. If that machine were available, I'd use it.". I wish I could give this more than +1 $\endgroup$ – Henry Taylor Jul 1 '18 at 16:05
  • $\begingroup$ This... augh. This does not make birth safer. Just thinking about it.. Aargh. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Jul 2 '18 at 10:18
  • $\begingroup$ @JoeBloggs "This does not make birth safer." Only one way to find out. $\endgroup$ – Renan Jul 3 '18 at 16:53
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    $\begingroup$ @Renan I need a centrifuge, some counterweights, a gynaecologist’s chair and two square meters of netting. For Science. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Jul 3 '18 at 19:54
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I would like to divert the actual question a bit, but, If the real motive behind this is to actually ease the mother from the pain of childbirth. Then I would rather suggest that it would be better to remove the embryo itself from the womb and let it develop in an artificial environment.

The process could take place something like this:

  1. First, simply detect that the woman is pregnant.
  2. Wait till the embryo is stable in the womb (maybe 2-3 months)
  3. Use the "Cellular Control" to extract the now stable embryo from the womb.
  4. Use the "Fleshsculpting" to create an artificial womb chamber.
  5. Let the embryo develop within this chamber.
  6. Use the "Regeneration" to help the mother recover.

This procedure has certain added advantages, like:

  1. There will be no pain for mother.
  2. Mother will be free to do the routine tasks after an initial time of 3 months.
  3. The rate of accidental miscarriage will become low.
  4. The baby can result in a better health as the chamber will be well fed with proper nutritious supply.
  5. Also, you can control certain traits in this chamber e.g.making baby immune to common diseases, controlling any unwanted mutations, etc.

Now, I am not sure if I can use mythology as a proof of concept here. But, In Hindu Mythology, in Mahabharat: Once, Queen Gandhari asked to have a boon of 100 sons. Humanly it was not possible so the above-said procedure was actually used to grant her wish of 100 sons and 1 daughter as an added bonus.

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In general, Biomancy won't help medicine much during this time period without some extra knowledge. As Palarran mentions, "Medical" knowledge wasn't that great until, realistically, late 1800s or early 1900s. Up until that general era, people didn't know about things like bacteria or viruses or even keeping things sterile and clean was super useful. Bloodletting was a common practice - It was used in an attempt to help George Washington, in December of 1799.

If people still think these practices are the "Correct" method, they'll still focus on them and still use them, and won't do things like boil the surgical instruments or other things that were possible but never thought about.

Realistically, the practical uses of Biomancy, in relation to pregnancies, are pretty small. Reducing pain makes childbirth less unpleasant. Changing the body to temporarily enlarge the birth canal might allow some births to go smoother. More rapid healing might help people survive C-sections - but as I mentioned in the comment to Palarran's answer, C-sections were generally used as a last resort.

What is truly needed is for Biomancy to somehow guide witches to modern and semi-modern medical ideas that can still be implemented. Keeping things clean, different types of suturing, that some of the practices in use weren't actually helpful, use clean water, etc.

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  • $\begingroup$ just widening the birth canal (a very lot) would improve almost all labour. Making the whole birth canal 20 cms wide, how many babies would you lose from all those complications. Just stick a portal at the top of the canal even better. $\endgroup$ – WendyG Jul 2 '18 at 9:36

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