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Childbirth as an athletic feat.

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About this work


A class of expectant mothers practise ante-natal exercises designed by Kathleen Vaughan at Paddington (LCC Hospital), London. The purpose of each exercise is explained by intertitles prior to the footage. One of the women is a former ballerina in her 34th week of pregnancy - she is frequently singled out to demonstrate the poses and at the end of the film she does a small ballet performance.


UK : Kinocrat medical film unit, 1939.

Physical description

1 encoded moving image (8.17 min.) : silent, black and white



Copyright note

Copyright previously held by British Medical Association and assigned to Wellcome in 2005

Terms of use

Public Domain Mark

Language note

In English

Creator/production credits

Produced by Kathleen Vaughan, in conjunction with W.C.W. Nixon.


Segment 1 The intertitle states that the object of the exercises is to increase flexibility of the pelvic joints - these are pointed out on a pelvic x-ray. The following exercises are shown with intertitles in between stating what the exercises hope to improve: deep breathing with arm-raising; leg swinging; curved back; squatting. There is then an interval for rest. Time start: 00:00:00:00 Time end: 00:03:23:09 Length: 00:03:23:09
Segment 2 The women are shown resting after the last two strenuous activities, and practising relaxation lying on their backs on the gym floor. The following exercises are then shown with intertitles in between to describe their purpose: stair stepping; tiptoe walking; pelvic arch and pelvic floor stretching. One woman in her 34th week of pregnancy is a former ballerina and she does a short dance display. At the end of the exercise the women sit down on the floor and drink cups of milk. A chart is shown suggesting the best positions for labour. The ex-ballerina demonstrates the poses on a hospital bed brought into the gym. Finally we see the ex-ballerina in her garden with her new baby. Time start: 00:03:23:09 Time end: 00:08:16:06 Length: 00:04:52:26


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