Remembering Past Greats: Grantly Dick-Read

Author Information

Madhva Prasad Sarvothaman
(Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Seth G S Medical College & K E M Hospital, Mumbai, India.)

Grantly Dick-Read (1890 - 1959) was a British practitioner who is most popularly known for his advocacy of the process of "natural birth". It is important to acknowledge that he lived in an era where there was extensive reliance of interventions by obstetricians leading to a significant amount of medical mishaps, which were hereto unaudited. His main contribution was a book titled "Natual childbirth", released in 1933 which shot him to international fame.

He contended that each pregnant woman should be meticulously informed in detail about the process of labour. By this they should become well prepared for the same. He advocated rhythmic breathing manoeuvres in relation to labour pain. He stressed on the possibility that labour, being a physiological process, could be made a joyful experience. He also said that lay public should not be given access to medical journals, which causes irrational fear of labour, because most journals deal with abnormalities. These opinions, which were ahead of his time, were met with stiff opposition.

In today's world, the above measures correspond to informed consent, planned parenthood and natural birthing measures. His measures appear to have laid the foundation for modern day antenatal care, and holistic obstetric care.

  1. Biographies. In O’Dowd MJ, Philipp EE, editors. The History of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 1st ed. Lancs: Parthenon Publishing Group 2000; pp. 645-6.
  2. Allen V. Dr Grantly Dick-Read. Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed. 1995 Nov;73(3): F197-8.

Madhva Prasad Sarvothaman. Remembering Past Greats: Grantly Dick-Read. JPGO 2018 Volume 5 Number 5 Available from: