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List of Puerperal Related Causes of Death


Child Bed Fever

The most fatal disorder consequent upon delivery is the puerperal, or child-bed fever. It begins, like most other fevers, with a cold or shivering fit, which is succeeded by restlessness, pain of the head, great sickness at stomach, and bilious vomiting. The pulse is generally quick, the tongue dry, and there is a remarkable depression of spirits and loss of strength. A great pain is usually felt in the back, hips, and region of the womb; a sudden change in the quantity or quality of the lochia also takes place; and the patient is frequently troubled with a tenesmus, or constant inclination to go to stool. The urine, which is very high-colored, is discharged in small quantity, and generally with pain. The belly sometimes swells to a considerable bulk, and becomes susceptible of pain from the slightest touch. When the fever has continued for a few days, the symptoms of inflammation usually subside, and the disease acquires a more putrid form. At this period, if not sooner, a bilious or putrid looseness, of an obstinate and dangerous nature, comes on, and accompanies the disease through all its future progress. [Buchan1785].

Puerperal fever; and often called peritoneal fever. [Hoblyn1855]

Fever due to an infection usually of the placental site within the uterus. The fever is also called childbirth fever or puerperal fever. If the infection involves the bloodstream, it constitutes puerperal sepsis. In Latin a "puerpera" is a woman in childbirth since "puer" means child and "parere" means to give birth. The puerperium is the time immediately after the delivery of a baby. [Medicinenet].


Example from a 1734 London, England Death Record:

Example from an 1858 death certificate from West Virginia:

Example from an 1870 Mortality Schedule from Kentucky:


A cause given for many female deaths of the nineteenth century. Almost all babies were born in homes and usually were delivered by a family member or midwife; thus infection and lack of medical skill were often the actual causes of death. [NGSQ1988]

Example from an 1852 death certificate from England:


Restraint within doors by sickness, esp. that caused by childbirth; lying-in. [Webster]

Example from an 1868 death certificate from West Virginia:

Crural Phlebitis

Phlegmasia Alba Dolens


An obsolete term for pregnancy. [CancerWEB]

Eclampsia Puerperalis

Latin for Puerperal Eclampsia.

Example from an 1868 Church Record in Münster, Switzerland

Ectopic Gestation

Pregnancy resulting from gestation elsewhere than in the uterus. Synonym: ectopic pregnancy. [Wordnet].

Example from a 1919 Death Certificate from Georgia:

Frenzy of Parturition

Occurs when the os uteri or vulva is distended to the utmost by the passage of the child's head; it is transient, and merely the result of violent agony temporarily disturbing the balance of reason. All that is generally required in the way of treatment is to restrain the patient until the paroxysm passes away; but if time permits and further means are needed, the administration of chloroform is the most effective remedy. [Guide to the Practice of Midwifery, Roberts, 1884]

Insanity of Lactation

Is usually restricted to a period commencing two months after labor. The cause is prolonged lactation, inducing anemia and exhaustion. [Guide to the Practice of Midwifery, Roberts, 1884]

Insanity of Pregnancy

Is almost always of the melancholic variety, and usually manifests itself in the third, fifth, or seventh month, hereditary insanity, in the great majority of cases, being the predisposing cause. The minor forms, not infrequently met with in pregnant females, may be traced in perversion of the appetite and desires, the uncertainty and irritability of temper, and in cases more developed, a great tendency to the suicidal impulse. [Guide to the Practice of Midwifery, Roberts, 1884]

Lying In


Lying-In Fever

Puerperal Septicemia. [A Manual of Obstetrics 1907].

Mania Puerperalis

Latin for Puerperal Mania.

Example from an 1868 Church Record in Münster, Switzerland

Milk Fever

An aggravated form of the excitement which takes place at the onset of lactation. It is commonly said, in such cases, that the milk flies to the head. [Hoblyn1855]

Puerperal Fever. A fever which accompanies or precedes the first lactation. It is usually transitory. (b) (Vet. Surg.) A form puerperal peritonitis in cattle; also, a variety of meningitis occurring in cows after calving. [Webster]

Milk Leg

Phlegmasia Alba Dolens. A swollen condition of the leg, usually in puerperal women, caused by an inflammation of veins, and characterized by a white appearance occasioned by an accumulation of serum and sometimes of pus in the cellular tissue. [Webster]

Example from a 1867 Death Record from Michigan

Motherhood Eclampsia

Puerperal Eclampsia.

Example from a 1919 Death Certificate from Georgia:


The act of delivery of the fœtus and its appendages; also the state during and immediately after delivery. [Dunglison1868]

The act or process of giving birth; childbirth. [Heritage]

Example from an 1858 death certificate from West Virginia:

Example from an 1864 Death Certificate from England:



Peritonitis Puerperali

Latin for Puerperal Peritonitis.

Example from an 1858 Church Record in Münster, Switzerland

Phlegmasia Alba Dolens

Phlebitis of the femoral vein, occasionally following parturition or an acute febrile illness; it is characterized by swelling of the leg, usually without redness. [Thomas1907]

Placenta Previa

Placenta previa is a condition that occurs during pregnancy when the placenta is abnormally placed, and partially or totally covers the cervix. [].

Example from a 1920 Death Certificate from Ohio:


Occurring in or being the period following parturition. [Merriam Webster].

Of or noting the period of time following childbirth; after delivery. [Random House].

Postpartum Hemorrhage / Hĉmorrhage

Hemorrhage from the birth canal in excess of 500 milliliters during the first 24 hours after birth. [American Heritage].

Example from an 1885 Death Record from Illinois:

Postpartum Eclampsia

Puerperal Eclampsia.

Example from a 1919 Death Certificate from Georgia:

Puerperal Convulsions

Puerperal Eclampsia.

Example from an 1892 Death Record from West Virginia:

Puerperal Disorders

Disorders or diseases associated with the six-to-eight-week period immediately following labor and delivery. [CancerWEB].

Puerperal Eclampsia

Convulsions and coma associated with hypertension, oedema, or proteinuria occurring in a woman following delivery. [CancerWEB].

Example from a 1919 Death Certificate from Georgia:

Puerperal Fever

A term generally considered synonymous with those of puerperal peritonitis, child bed fever, peritoneal fever, or the epidemic disease of lying-in women. [Hoblyn1855].

A severe febrile disease which sometimes occurs in the puerperal state, usually about the third day after childbirth, originating in an inflamed condition of the peritoneum. Termed also metria. [Thomas1875].

A fever formerly supposed to be specific, appearing in puerperal women between the second and sixth days after delivery. It is now known that the disease is due to septic infection. [Appleton1904].

Puerperal Septicemia. [A Manual of Obstetrics 1907].

An illness resulting from infection of the endometrium following childbirth or abortion marked by fever and septicemia and usually caused by unsterile technique. Also called childbed fever. [Heritage].

Example from an 1825 death certificate from Pennsylvania:

Example from a 1922 Death Certificate from Georgia:

Puerperal Infection

Puerperal Septicemia. [A Manual of Obstetrics 1907].

Example from a 1917 Death Certificate from Georgia:

Puerperal Metritis

Inflammation of the uterus.

Example from an 1887 death certificate from Illinois:

Puerperal Mania

Puerperal Insanity; mania which supervenes in the childbed state, usually within a week or ten days after delivery. Pathological lesions observed after death are not constant. The brain is generally almost exsanguine. [Dunglison 1903].

Example from an 1890 death record from Michigan:

Puerperal Peritonitis

Inflammation of the peritoneum (membrane lining the abdominal cavity). Characterized by violent pain in the abdomen, increased by the slightest pressure, often by simple weight of bed clothes. It frequently occurs in parturient state and begins on the second or third day after delivery. At times, a malignant epidemic, and perhaps contagious, variety has made its appearance, and destroyed numbers of females. This has been described under the name puerperal fever, metroperitonitis and low fever of child bed. [Dunglison1874].

Example from a 1912 Death Certificate from Massachusetts:

Puerperal Pyemia / Pyĉmia

A febrile disease supposed to be due to absorption of pus or its constituents into the blood. It usually follows wounds, suppurative inflammation of bone, or the puerperal state, and results in the formation of secondary abscesses in the viscera, joints, and connective tissue. It sometimes associated with phlebitis or embolism. [Appleton1904].

Example from an 1886 death certificate from Illinois:

Puerperal Sepsis

Puerperal Septicemia. [A Manual of Obstetrics 1907].

Example from a 1921 Death Certificate from Georgia:

Puerperal Septicemia / Septicĉmia

(Older synonyms: childbed fever; lying-in fever; puerperal fever; etc.; modern synonyms: puerperal sepsis; puerperal infection; etc.). Is a fever beginning within a week after labor - usually from the third to the fifth day, inclusive; attended with acute inflammation of the reproductive organs (one or more) and with septic infection of the blood and general system. The local acute inflammations are simply local infections of the inflamed parts - their invasion by pathogenic microbes. The blood infection is produced either by the same pathogenic microbes invading the blood and multiplying in the circulation, or the blood is poisoned by absorption of ptomaines produced by the colonies of microorganisms existing in the inflamed organs. Because the condition is attended with the symptoms of fever, and occurs during the puerperal period, it was called "puerperal fever." Later, when it was found that the chief cause of death was septic poison in the blood, it became known as "puerperal septicemia." [A Manual of Obstetrics 1907].

Example from an1897 Death Record from Michigan:

Toxemia of Pregnancy

An abnormal condition of pregnancy characterized by hypertension and edema and protein in the urine; Eclampsia. [Wordnet]

White Leg

Phlegmasia Alba Dolens