The Perceptions of Pregnancy blog, like the Researchers’ Network, aims to reach beyond boundaries and borders, and to facilitate an international and interdisciplinary conversation on pregnancy and its associated bodily and emotional experiences from the earliest times to the present day. This week, Gabrielle Robilliard writes about 18th-century midwifery in Germany and the clash between male and female practitioners.
If you wanted to edify yourself in 1790s Germany on the history of midwifery, you might have consulted J. G. Krünitz’s Oekonomische Encyklopädie (published 1773–1858), the most comprehensive German-language encyclopaedia of its time, which would have told you that:
For around 100 years in various countries in Europe, but largely in France, England and Holland, and now in many places in Germany, one has greatly improved the art of midwifery, and had few qualms about allowing several men well trained in that art to practise it rather than common midwives: indeed, in many large cities one has appointed several [men] skilled and experienced in this art … especially to provide advice and assistance to pregnant and parturient women and, in emergencies, to provide a helping hand.
By the Sexualidad en tu propia voz explores the changes that happened within the Mexican context to concepts imported from Europe of motherhood, childbirth, and sex. Challenging how men have come to dominate knowledge on childbirth.
The Perceptions of Pregnancy blog, like the Researchers’ Network, aims to reach beyond boundaries and borders, and to facilitate an international and interdisciplinary conversation on pregnancy and its associated bodily and emotional experiences from the medieval to the modern. This weeks post on the assistance during birth of handywomen in Ireland comes to us from Cara Delay, Interim Director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at the College of Charleston.
On duty in the west of Ireland, one of Lady Dudley’s nurses reported her experiences with a maternity case in 1910. She wrote:
Had just gone to another case when this patient sent for me. Then they went for [the] handy woman, who is a great scold. Doctor also had to be sent for, and he would not have me go whilst this woman was there. Afterwards I was called. The house is an old stable. There is no bed in the house, just a table, one chair and one stool; they are very poor. Patient was lying in the corner in a frightful condition. I got assistance and had her removed and made her comfortable.
Revealing the practical difficulties involved in early twentieth-century Irish nursing—rural travel and poverty among them—this report also points to the tensions that developed between nurse-midwives, doctors, and traditional ‘handywomen’ during a time of transforming health care ideals and realities.
Institutions and Ireland: Medicine, Health and Welfare
A one-day conference exploring Ireland’s continuously evolving relationships with institution.
Neill/Hoey Lecture Theatre, Trinity Long Room Hub, Dublin
Friday 5 February 2016
Papers of potential interest to members include:
- Lloyd Houston (Brasenose College, Oxford), ‘The Wages of Sin is a Month in the Locke’: Irish Modernism and the Politics of Venereal Disease
- Professor Linda Connolly (UCC), The Construction of Gender and Motherhood through the Lens of Church–State Power in Ireland
- Sylvia Murphy Tighe (TCD), Contemporary Media Representations of Concealed Pregnancy: Shaming, Blaming, and Vilifying Women
- Keynote Address: Dr Rhona Mahony (Master, National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street), The Birth of a Republic: Giving Birth in Ireland, 1916–2016
The Perceptions of Pregnancy blog, like the Researchers’ Network, aims to reach beyond boundaries and borders, and to facilitate an international and interdisciplinary conversation on pregnancy and its associated bodily and emotional experiences from the medieval to the modern. Today’s post is contributed by Owen Davies who writes on the associations between pregnancy and ghosts.
From the ancient world to the present, societies across the globe have been concerned that problems in childbirth were a potential source of malevolent ghosts. People who died prematurely or tragically were thought to leave restless spirits that could harass, torment or spread illnesses amongst the living. It is no surprise, then, that women who died during pregnancy or childbirth formed one such vengeful group. Known in ancient Mesopotamia as the lilitu, they preyed on pregnant women. The cause of such childbirth complications was itself considered an act of divine supernatural vengeance. It was recorded of the hag-goddess Lamashtu that:
She touches the bellies of women in labour,
She yanks out the pregnant woman’s baby.
The Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung comments on what it considers an excessive amount of doctors visits during pregnancy. It reflects the concern that such a trend will change the perception of pregnancy from something natural and physiological to something of a problem or disease.
This is part of a series of articles published by Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung on the ongoing discussions around the rise in caesarean sections in Germany; highlighting the dominant belief in several sections of society that natural birth is always best and should actively encouraged.