Chainsaws Were Invented for Childbirth, Not for Slasher Films

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Chainsaws Were Invented for Childbirth, Not for Slasher Films


When you get lost in the woods, hidden away from the rest of the world by a copse of trees with branches forking and sprouting every which way to form a canopy and suddenly find yourself thinking about those darn slasher films, the presence of wood all around you might make you think of dying a horrible death by being eaten by a bear… or getting cut down by a madman wielding a chainsaw and grating, horror-movie laughter. 

But before that mental image was immortalized by slasher films, did you know that the chainsaw was first invented, not to cut trees or teenagers in cabins, but for assisting childbirth?

Curious? So are we. 


A chainsaw / Photo by: Business Insider


The Business Insider, an American financial and business news website, still narrates a pretty gruesome history, though. 

Historically, before the C-section was invented, when babies got stuck coming out of the mother’s body, some very creative methods were needed to help them get out. Creative, yes, but excruciatingly painful. According to the article, doctors would use saws and knives to cut through “parts of bone and cartridge” that might have been impeding a baby’s journey outside the mother’s body. 

Picturing the pain enough? Well, now’s a good time to add that this process, called “symphysiotomy,” was also performed “without anesthesia to a woman in the middle of giving birth.” 


The first invented chainsaw / Photo by: Sabine Salfer and Wikimedia Commons via Business Insider


This painful method of getting stuck babies out of mothers wouldn't change very soon but some doctors eventually created the revolutionary chainsaw to cut through pelvic bone easier. It doesn’t look like the chainsaw you see that they use on trees, of course, although it was still terrifying. 

Powered by a hand crank, this device was invented in 1780 and looked more like a “modern-day kitchen knife with little teeth on a chain that wound in an oval.” It was also not the roaring, intimidating kind we see in slasher films today. It was quieter and looked closer to a medical tool.


A Jason Voorhees cosplay / Photo by: Douglas Pimentel via Flickr