• Penny Rall CNM, MS,

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    • Penny Rail completed her MS in Nursing Sciences at the University of Illinois and has recently become a certified nurse-midwife. She received her BS in Nursing from the Ohio State University. Currently, she is in private practice at Comprehensive Women's Health Care, Hinsdale, Illinois.

  • Karin T. Kirchhoff RN, PHD,

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    • Karin T. Kirchhoff, PhD, RN, is the Clinical Nursing Research Coordinator, University of Illinois and Associate Professor, College of Nursing. She received her BSN and MSN from Wayne State University in Detroit, and her PhD in Nursing Sciences from the University of Illinois. She has studied the historical development of nursing practice and provided methodological and editorial consultation on this study.

  • Joyce Roberts CNM, PHD

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    • Joyce Roberts is the Director of the Nurse-Midwifery educational program at the University of Illinois. She received her BS in Nursing from the University of Wyoming, her MS in Maternal-Newborn Nursing and Nurse-Midwifery from the University of Utah, and her PhD in Nursing Sciences from the University of Illinois. She practices as a nurse-midwife at Cook County Hospital in Chicago where she is currently involved in research related to maternal position during childbirth and other aspects of the birth experience.

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Recent consumer demand for a more personal and natural childbirth experience is stimulating change in the setting and conduct of birth for low-risk deliveries. Parents are opting for a more home-like, clean birth experience rather than an institutionalized aseptic delivery. With these changes, there is also a change in professional attire for delivery. No longer is surgical garb seen at every hospital birth. A review of the literature, including obstetric medical and nursing texts, professional standards documents, and periodicals from 1800 to the present provide an overview of the historical development of aseptic practices. Discoveries by Holmes, Semmelweis, Pasteur, and Lister were the basis for the development of aseptic practices and professional apparel at delivery. Over the 200-year time span, practices ranged from harmful interventions in an attempt to sterilize the birth canal, to protective measures using antiseptics and sterile clothing to prevent the introduction of pathogens. Today, the necessary professional attire at delivery is still a debatable issue.