Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition (2003), gives meaning 3 of deliver as follows:
3 a (1) : to assist in giving birth (2) : to aid in the birth of b : to give birth to c : to cause (oneself) to produce as if by giving birth
Definition 3b appears to be by far the most common birth-related meaning today, to judge from a Google Books search of publications from the year 2000 using the phrase "delivered a healthy." In 28 of the first 30 matches involving babies, the mother is named as the deliverer. (In the other two, credit goes, respectively, to "Jim and Bob" and to "the Lord"; in two additional instances, a company delivered "a healthy profit" or "a healthy 6.8% return.")
But in Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language (1756), the only birth-related definition of deliver is this one:
6 To disburden a woman of a child.
And a book by Jacques Guillemeau, translated in 1635 bears the evocative title Child-birth, or, The Happy Delivery of Women. The implication here seems to be that the delivery is of women from the burden and suffering of childbirth.
My question is: When did the notion that a mother delivers her child, as opposed to being delivered of her child, arise?
I had expected the Oxford English Dictionary to provide a fairly precise answer. But its handling of the relevant definition of deliver is surprisingly limited:
3 To disburden (a woman) of the fœtus, to bring to childbirth ; in passive, to give birth to a child or offspring. Rarely said of beasts. (The active is late and and chiefly in obstetrical use.)
c 1325 Metr. Hom. 63 For than com tim Mari mild Suld be deliuerd of hir child. ... 1480 CAXTON Chron Eng. lxxi. 53 Tyme come that she should be delyuered and bere a child. 1484 —Fables of Æsop 1. ix, *A bytche which wolde lyttre and be delyured of her lytyl dogges. 1568 TILNEY Disc. Mariage C viii, To have thy wyfe with childe safely delyvered. 1611 SHAKS. Wint. T. II. ii. 25 She is, something before her time, deliuer'd. 1685 COOKE Marrow of Chirurg. III. I. i. (ed. 4) 168 The third time they sent and begged I would deliver her. 1754–64 SMELLIE Midwif. I. Introd. 70 A better method of delivering in laborious and preternatural cases. 1805 Med. Jrnl. XIV. 521 By making an incision in the urethra..the patient might be delivered. c 1850 Arab. Nts. (Rtldg.) 448 The queen..was in due time safely delivered of a prince.
From the OED's treatment of deliver definition 3, it appears that the notion of the mother as deliverer came surprisingly late in history. Does anyone know how late?