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Yes, you read it right. Chainsaws were actually made to aid in childbirth. No need to fidget, tho. The chainsaw invented is a little bit less scary and looks more like a medical tool, not the familiar chainsaw we all know for woodcutting.

Giving birth is not just a walk in the park. It implies unbearable pain, complications during labor, or it could be a life-threatening situation for the mother and the baby. If normal delivery is not an option, doctors will try alternative methods. In the 18th century, anesthesia was still yet to be polished, and doing cesarean deliveries were considered risky as it was prone to infection at that time.

For almost three centuries, Symphysiotomy was used for deliveries. As we all know, babies that are too large or breach could not fit through or will be stuck in the pelvis. Symphysiotomy is a procedure that will divide the cartilage of the pubic symphysis to widen the pelvis. The doctor would take a knife to separate the woman’s pelvis in half. Scottish doctors John Aitken and James Jeffray wanted to improve the procedure since using a knife was time-consuming and extremely painful for the patient. They created a device that consists of a long chain with serrated teeth and a handle on each end. This chain will be wrapped around the pelvic bone, and the doctors would pull each handle alternately. The device is much faster and more precise than using a knife.

Bernhard Heine, an orthopaedist, improved the invention that was powered by a hand crank and a guiding blade for the serrated chain that allows it to rotate. It was then called an osteotome. It became widely used in other surgeries because of its efficiency.

Due to the increasing improvement of hospital hygiene and anesthesia, cesarean sections were widely used rather than Symphysiotomy until it was no longer performed. Symphysiotomies still happen in some third world countries where the cesarean section is not yet available.