Childbed fever was by the far the most common cause of deaths associated with childbirth up to the Second World War throughout Britain and Europe. Otherwise known as puerperal fever, it was an infection which followed childbirth and caused thousands of miserable and agonising deaths everyyear. This book provides the first comprehensive account of this tragic disease from its recognition in the eighteenth century up to the second half of the twentieth century. Examining this within a broad history of infective diseases, the author goes on to explore ideas from past debates about thenature of infectious diseases and contagion, the discovery of bacteria and antisepsis, and charts the complicated path which led to the discovery of antibiotics. The large majority of deaths from puerperal fever were due to one micro-organism known as Streptococcus pyogenes, and the last chapter presents valuable new ideas on the nature and epidemiology of streptococcal disease up to the present day.