This social history of obstetric anesthesia in the United States has four objectives: 1. To shed light on how women's perceptions of labor pain change over time. 2. To explore how physicians acquire their views of birth and how those perceptions shape obstetric practice, particularly the administration of obstetric anesthesia. 3. To examine how historical, social, and cultural forces affect medical decision-making and shape standard medical practice. 4. To explain how controversial medical procedures, like the use of inhalation anesthesia during birth, come to be accepted as standard and beneficial practice. This book will examine two different, often oppositional, forms of knowledge-obstetricians' medical knowledge of birth and women's anticipation and experience of birth-and the effects of their interaction. As a social historian, the P.I. will put physicians' and women's changing perceptions of labor pain and the changes in women's desire for and physicians' approval, development, and use of obstetric anesthesia in historical, social, and cultural context. Data for this book will be culled from oral history interviews with mothers and physicians as well as myriad archival and published sources including women's letters and diaries; physicians' personal papers; physicians' and women's autobiographies and memoirs; the papers of assorted birth reform organizations; maternity hospital records; physicians' obstetric logs; the musings of fathers recorded in hospital waiting rooms; articles in magazines, newspapers, and medical journals; popular medical advice manuals; and obstetrics texts.