OK, I can’t resist

I am supposed to be writing a lecture right now on anatomy and physiology during pregnancy. I learned some new terms:

souffle /souf·fle/ (soo´f’l) a soft, blowing auscultatory sound.
cardiac souffle: any cardiac or vascular murmur of a blowing quality.
funic souffle, funicular souffle: hissing souffle synchronous with fetal heart sounds, probably from the umbilical cord.
mammary souffle: a functional cardiac murmur with a blowing sound, heard over the breasts in late pregnancy and during lactation.
placental souffle: the sound supposed to be produced by the blood current in the placenta.
uterine souffle: a sound made by the blood within the arteries of the gravid uterus.

Huh. Who knew? A placental souffle. Since I heard about people eating their placentas and have cooked a few souffles (placenta free, I might add) before I heard this term used for the sound of the blowing murmur, I have an ewwww moment going on here.

And, I also just wanted to point out how problematic and difficult it is that most imagery for the medical discussion of the anatomy and physiology of pregnancy is really inconsiderate of the whole woman. I have given up trying to find images where the woman’s face and/or head and/or extremities are not severed and are either present or merely disregarded.

As it is nearly impossible and too time-consuming, I am giving up. I am using these kinds of images and discussing them in context, pointing out why they are problematic:

gravid uterus


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12 responses to “OK, I can’t resist

  1. I also cannot stand the dismembered images of women used when anatomy images of fetus and birth are used. Here is a lovely set of images from Australia, (expensive but shows mama in an upright birthing position, imagine that!) that I recommend to anyone who wants to show some positive images while cleary showing anatomy!


  2. River Eden Doula

    I’ve seen that actual drawing at a museum in Glasgow. The man-midwife’s name was Wiliam Hunter I think.

  3. Paige

    That image is truly disturbing to me. No wonder there is so much focus on the fetus and the mother is frequently and afterthought.

  4. Helen

    I remember looking through two different obstetrics textbooks once (probably Williams and Danforth — this would have been about 16 years ago, so the books were 17-20+ years old) and finding exactly ONE picture of a woman that included the face — a reproduction of an 18th- or 19th-century caricature of a drunken midwife. C’mon, you couldn’t spare a SINGLE illustration space for a regular pregnant woman, or a woman holding her newborn? Gah.

  5. Ugh. The ham-iness of the legs just squicks me right the hell out.

    • MomTFH

      I KNOW! They totally look like hams. That’s what I told my class. I have heard of treating women like meat, but this takes it to the next level.

  6. Great post. The very first paper I ever wrote in a women’s health class was on a study that found that most anatomy pictures in medical textbooks were identifiable as male, even when the anatomy in question was the same regardless of gender. Subtle or not-so-subtle (ham legs), this stuff has to affect the way doctors-in-training view our bodies.

    • MomTFH

      Yes, they do use way to many male-bodied bodies and yes it affects the way doctors-in-training view our bodies.

      I used to make fun of Netter all the time. There always seemed to be a scrotum in the picture, even if it was completely unrelated. The superficial muscles of the back – with a scrotum peeking through the legs! I think Netter found the scrotum to be a better reference point than the umbilicus.

  7. Pingback: Placental souffle | Usadirectworld

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