1694: Scottish advice on when to conceive

In 1694, Scottish doctor James McMath published The Expert Midwife in Edinburgh. McMath’s book was one of several guides to pregnancy and childbirth available at the time. Its content is mostly unremarkable, filled with medical advice that was standard for the time. McMath’s flowery writing style, however, sometimes bordered on the absurd. He refused to include an anatomical description of the female genitalia, out of “modesty and reverence to nature” – yet likens pregnant women to “tender vessels” on a “long and perilous voyage [on] rough and rocky seas”.

Even more strange is McMath’s account of the best time for conception, when:

“…the blood of the courses [menstrual fluid] is of a florid bright colour and smelling like marigolds.”

Source: James McMath, The Expert Midwife, 1694, p.81. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2016. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.