A sooterkin is an imaginary kind of afterbirth in the form of an “evil-looking little animal” especially attributed to Dutch women, particularly if they had spent too much time in front of hot stoves.[1][2] It was supposed that the sooterkin was a kind of parasite on the unborn child, stealing its nourishment, so that the baby was born desiccated and dead. One London physician, Dr John Maubray, even claimed in his book The Female Physician (1724) to have delivered a sooterkin while travelling on a ferry from Harlingen to Amsterdam when a woman went into labour; he described the creature as resembling a mole.[2]

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Bibliography


Bondeson, J. (1997). A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities. I. B. Tauris.
OED. (2018). sooterkin, n. In Oxford English Dictionary (online). Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/184701