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Anna Bosanquet

I am a part-time MPhil/PhD student researching history of midwifery in 18th century London

Title of thesis: Creating knowledge, evolving practice: midwifery and childbirth services in 18th century London
Start date: 01.03.2011
Supervisors: Professor Hilary Marland and Dr Claudia Stein


The female body and the physiology of childbirth remain universal across time and geographical location. However, understanding and presentation of the female anatomy, descriptions of the processes of reproduction, and clinical practice surrounding childbirth continuously change. These changes are not simply due to increasing availability of scientific evidence and new data, but are strongly influenced by the wider social, political and economic contexts.

Eighteenth century London provides unique opportunities for researching the evolution of midwifery knowledge and practice. This was a particularly interesting historical period due to the wide-ranging societal changes that took place, including change in the position of women in society, and important developments in medical practice and science. The activities of London based practitioners attending childbirth led to revolutionary shift in the management of uncomplicated labour, control of which for the first time in English history moved from the hands of female midwives to those of the medical men. This was also the period which saw the opening of the first lying-in hospitals, as well as midwifery schools for men and women.
In my research I will utilise the theoretical perspectives of professionalisation, feminism and social construction of science to assess how these important developments in London were related to the evolution of midwifery knowledge and clinical practice.

My background

I am a registered midwife, and work as a Senior Lecturer in Midwifery at the Faculty of Health and Social Care Sciences at Kingston University / St George's University of London. I continue to be involved in clinical practice by holding an honorary position at St George's Hospital, where I developed and continue to be involved in running a specialist midwifery service. In 2012, after two and a half years of hard work I completed a training DVD for midwives and doctors on perineal assessment and repair following childbirth. Before I became a midwife, I gained a BSc (hons) in Psychology and MSc in Medical Sociology from University of London, and worked as a lecturer and researcher investigating various aspects of health and illness and influences on doctors' clinical practice.

PhD Progress

Publications and presentations

History of Midwifery - Research Resources



Normal Birth Conference Vancouver 2010

NICER 2012

RCM 2012