Category Archives: Tall tales

1743: Birthing tips from women in Greenland

In 1743, a Flemish explorer and writer published A Natural History of Greenland, having spent time there some years earlier. Hans Egedius begins with an account of Greenland’s climate, terrain, natural resources and fauna. He then turns his attention to its human inhabitants, mentioning their proclivity for wife-swapping:

“They have riotous assemblies in which it is reckoned good breeding when a man lends his wife to a friend…”

Egedius also records a list of bizarre medical treatments allegedly used in Greenland, such as this response to intestinal worms:

“When their children are troubled with worms, the mother puts her tongue up the [child’s] fundament to kill them.”

And their unique approach to childbirth:

“They hold a piss-pot over the women’s heads whilst in labour, thinking it to promote hasty delivery. They seldom [deliver] twins, but often monsters.”

Source: Hans Egedius, A Natural History of Greenland, &c., 1743. 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.