Obstetrics

For a time, Mary Baker Eddy felt that it was important for Christian Science practitioners taking childbirth cases to be knowledgeable about obstetrics from both a physiological and a spiritual standpoint, enabling them to understand the mechanics of delivery and to recognize abnormal conditions to be healed through metaphysical treatment. To this end, two one-week classes in obstetrics were held in 1887 at the Massachusetts Metaphysical College, followed by another in October 1888. In the 1888 class, Eddy taught the metaphysical aspects of obstetrics and Ebenezer J. Foster Eddy, a former physician, taught the anatomical/medical aspects. (Mary Baker Eddy’s secretary, Calvin Frye, was also in the class and his notes of Foster Eddy’s teaching can be found in document A11560, available through the Library’s research department.)

Obstetrics classes were not taught again until Monday, January 9, 1899, when a special obstetrics class was held under the auspices of the Board of Education of the Christian Science Church. Further classes were held by the Board of Education in 1900 and 1901. All of these classes were taught by Alfred Baker, a Christian Science teacher and former physician. In 1902, Mary Baker Eddy discontinued the teaching of obstetrics. For some time, she apparently had had misgivings about the classes and their emphasis on the anatomical aspects of birth and potential related physical problems. On March 10, 1902 she wrote to Judge Septimus Hanna: “The obstetrics is a snare. God gives spiritual and not sexual teaching. I was never quite satisfied to have it taught. The real Christian Scientist can deliver the mother in travail with the Truth, the same as disease is healed. And the laws of our land will not protect a failure in the one case any more than the other. An M.D. teacher of obstetrics does not evade the fact that his student the obstetrician has no regular diploma.”[*]Editorial Note: Mary Baker Eddy to Septimus J. Hanna, 10 March 1902, L05288 And to Dr. Baker, she wrote: “I can agree with you perfectly on what you said to me about obstetrics. I see now how it sensualizes thought. I do not wonder you said you were surprised that I had it taught in my College.”[*]Editorial Note: Mary Baker Eddy to Alfred Baker, 12 March 1902, F00280 From then on, Christian Science healers were to employ the spiritual approach she describes in the Christian Science textbook, which includes: “To attend properly the birth of the new child, or divine idea, you should so detach mortal thought from its material conceptions, that the birth will be natural and safe.”[*]Editorial Note: Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 463.