History Of Midwifery

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Midwifery is one of the oldest and most storied professions in the world. This essay seeks to explain the role of midwives, as well as the greater effect the profession has had on our society as a whole. Specifically, this analysis will explain the background and history of midwifery. It will also explain the social impact of the profession and how it brought together women of different races. Finally, it will go in depth on the identity of certain specific midwives and their contributions to the profession. Historically, becoming a midwife was not hard. A birth was viewed as a natural process in which a minimal amount of specialized knowledge was needed. Any woman who had given birth to children or had assisted with the birth of a…show more content…
Her name was Bridget Lee Fuller. She traveled on the Mayflower and aided in three births that occurred during the crossing of the Atlantic. She then served as a midwife until her death in 1664. Another notable midwife is Elizabeth Phillips whose death in 1761 brought her forty years career to an end. The epitaph of Elizabeth Phillips stated that she had “by ye of God...brought into this world three thousand children.” ( Litoff, Judy Barrett. American Midwives: 1860 to the Present. Greenwood, 1978). Most Colonial midwives were held in high esteem by the community, though the women who unfortunately delivered at the birth of a deformed or stillborn fetus were sometimes suspected of practicing…show more content…
Her journal provides information about day to day activities of the 18th-century midwife. It is hard to make an assessment of the knowledge of the average Colonial midwife due to the lack of primary sources. There are no eyewitness accounts of birth during the Colonial period known to exist and journals and diaries of midwives are hard to locate if they could read and write. Martha Moore Ballard in most cases provided moral support and encouragement to women during birth and like most other midwives let nature take its course during birth. Although she did provide herbal remedies for pain if they were needed. Midwives did not engage in bloodletting, purging, or other “heroic” medical practices. There were no formal instructions for midwives so there were no special precautions to cleanliness because there was little knowledge of things such as Asepsis or Antisepsis. There were some midwife manuals but it is impossible to tell whether they were read or followed by the midwives who could read. Thomas Raynolde’s Byrth Of Mankynde would be the first book in English to deal with the subject of midwifery. The first book written by a midwife would be Jane Sharp’s The Midwives

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