The Making of Man-midwifery: Childbirth in England, 1660-1770

Front Cover
Harvard University Press, 1995 - History - 239 pages

In England in the seventeenth century, childbirth was the province of women. The midwife ran the birth, helped by female "gossips"; men, including the doctors of the day, were excluded both from the delivery and from the subsequent month of lying-in.

But in the eighteenth century there emerged a new practitioner: the "man-midwife" who acted in lieu of a midwife and delivered normal births. By the late eighteenth century, men-midwives had achieved a permanent place in the management of childbirth, especially in the most lucrative spheres of practice.

Why did women desert the traditional midwife? How was it that a domain of female control and collective solidarity became instead a region of male medical practice? What had broken down the barrier that had formerly excluded the male practitioner from the management of birth?

This confident and authoritative work explores and explains a remarkable transformation--a shift not just in medical practices but in gender relations. Exploring the sociocultural dimensions of childbirth, Wilson argues with great skill that it was not the desires of medical men but the choices of mothers that summoned man-midwifery into being.

 

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Contents

The bodily processes of childbirth
11
The practices of midwives
25
Notes
39
Traditional obstetric surgery
47
The Chamberlen instruments and their sale
65
the London Deventerians
79
The impact of the forceps
91
Conflict and initiative in London 172040
107
the London Lyingin Hospitals
145
The varieties of manmidwifery 161 12 The varieties of manmidwifery
161
the man as midwife
175
Two female cultures
185
Conclusion
197
Bibliography
211
Index
229
Copyright

John Bamber the vectis and the City of London
135

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About the author (1995)

Adrian Wilson is Lecturer in the History of Medicine at the University of Leeds.

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