The first meeting of the American Medical Association which was held in Baltimore, May 2, 1848, occurred at a time when inhalation anesthesia constituted the great advance in medical practice. The Committee on Obstetrics reported that "the anesthetic agents ether and chloroform have now been used in perhaps 2,000 cases of midwifery, and so far as the committee have been able to learn without a single fatal, and few, if any, untoward results."
The development of anesthesia and analgesia in obstetric practice was slow at first because of the opposition of the clergy and, to a lesser degree, of the medical profession. Simpson was knighted by Queen Victoria after she had experienced painless childbirth, but had he lived in the sixteenth century it is probable that he would have fared as badly as the witches. Today the relief of pain is expected by the average woman and most physicians consider
DAVIS CH. OBSTETRICS AND GYNECOLOGY IN GENERAL PRACTICE. JAMA. 1929;93(13):961–963. doi:10.1001/jama.1929.02710130001001