Chainsaws were originally invented for helping with childbirth, not for cutting wood

  • Before Cesarean sections if a baby was too large to pass through the birth canal, parts of the pelvis would be removed.
  • At first, the procedure was performed with a small knife which was very messy and painful. 
  • In 1780, two doctors invented the chainsaw to make the removal both easier and less time-consuming. 
  • The original chainsaws were powered by a hand crank. 

You’re probably already clenching your knees together after reading the title, but yes, the chainsaw was originally invented to assist in childbirth. Before the common use of the caesarian section, all babies had to be passed through the birth canal. Which certainly makes sense.

But, as we know, babies can become obstructed in the there if they are breech or too large. When babies couldn’t fit through or they would get stuck in the pelvis, parts of bone and cartridge were removed to create more space for the baby. This is called a “symphysiotomy”.

The procedure was originally performed by hand using a small knife and saw to remove the bone. This was all done without anesthesia to a woman in the middle of giving birth. It took a long time and it was messy and obviously painful.

Now, if you’re already squirming, we’re just getting to the chainsaw part. 13th Floor enlightened us with this little-known history of this common saw. Two doctors invented the chainsaw in 1780 to make the removal of pelvic bone easier and less time-consuming during childbirth. It was powered by a hand crank and looked like a modern-day kitchen knife with little teeth on a chain that wound in an oval. We’re sure you’re envisioning those loud things that can hack up trees in seconds, but thankfully this one is a little bit less scary and looks more like a medical tool.


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