Story: Pregnancy, birth and baby care

Murphy's inhaler

Murphy's inhaler

The Murphy's inhaler was a pain-relief device used in childbirth. It was invented by Dr Edward William Murphy in 1848. The anaesthetic chloroform was dropped onto the cotton wool in the chamber at the end. A woman in labour held the device up to her mouth so she could inhale the fumes whenever she wanted.

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Cotter Medical History Trust

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How to cite this page:

Kerryn Pollock, 'Pregnancy, birth and baby care - Childbirth, 19th century to 1950s', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 18 September 2021)

Story by Kerryn Pollock, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 24 Oct 2018