Lecturer: Hilary Marland
From the eighteenth century onwards competition stepped up between female midwives and male accoucheurs or men-midwives. Male practitioners, armed with their new claims to authority and their obstetric instruments, began to criticise midwives for their traditional approaches and lack of formal training and to take over attendance at childbirth. By the turn of twentieth century, the location of childbirth had increasingly moved from home to hospital and struggles continued to establish authority and, for midwives, legal recognition. This week’s seminar will investigate the changing status of midwives and medical men; how childbirth went from being viewed as a traditional, female activity to a medical event; changing cultural and social practices surrounding childbirth; and how mothers themselves experienced these developments.
- Why did midwifery become an area of conflict in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries?
- In what ways did the experience of childbirth change between 1700 and 1900?
- 'There was no golden age in which women gave birth both safely and effortlessly’: is this an accurate portrayal of the risks of childbirth in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries?
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H. Marland (ed.), The Art of Midwifery: Early Modern Midwives in Europe (1993, 1994). e-book
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H. Marland and A.M. Rafferty (eds), Midwives, Society and Childbirth: Debates and Controversies in the Modern Period (1997). e-book
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