Written by Dr. John Snow after administering chloroform to Queen Victoria during the delivery by the attending physician, Dr. Charles Locock (see picture). 


Tuesday, April 14, 1857

Administered Chloroform to Her Majesty the Queen in her ninth confinement. The labor occurred about a fortnight later than was expected.  It commenced about 2 A.M. of this day, when the medical men were sent for. The labor was lingering, and a little after 10 Dr. Locock administered half a drachm of powdered ergot, which produced some effect in increasing the pains. At 11 o'clock I began to administer chloroform. Prince Albert had previously administered a very little chloroform on a handkerchief, about 9 and 10 o'clock. I poured about 10 minims of chloroform on a handkerchief, folded in a conical shape, for each pain. Her Majesty expressed great relief from the vapor. Another dose of ergot was given about twelve o'clock and the pains increased somewhat about twenty minutes afterwards. The Queen, at this time, kept asking for more chloroform, and complaining that it did not remove the pain. She slept, however, sometimes between the pains. Before one o'clock the head was resting on the perineum and Dr. Locock which the patient to make a bearing down effort,[1] as he said that this would effect the birth. The Queen, however, when not unconscious of what was said, complained that she could not make an effort. The chloroform was left off for 3 or 4 pains and the royal patient made an effort which expelled the head, a little chloroform being given just as the head passed. There was an interval of several minutes before the child was entirely born:  it, however, cried in the meantime. The placenta was expelled about ten minutes afterwards. The Queen's recovery was very favorable.


[1] As before, Snow took especial care when writing here of his part in the Queen's confinement.  However he, again, made a slip of the pen.  Almost certainly he meant to write, "Dr. Locock wished the patient to make a bearing down effort."

Source: Ellis, Richard H. (ed): The Case Books of Dr. John Snow, Medical History, Supplement No. 14, Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, London 1994, p. 471. 

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