The next De Partu History of Childbirth event, to include a members’ meeting and the presentation of papers, will be held at the historic Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester on 14th October 2014.

Chetham's Library

Chetham’s Library

More details of the programme, which includes lunch, a short guided tour of the school and a musical interlude, will follow soon.

Janette Allotey
janette.allotey@manchester.ac.uk

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New book: Pregnancy and birth in early modern France

This new book may be of interest:

Pregnancy and birth in early modern France: treatises by caring physicians and surgeons (1581-1625). François Rousset, Jean Liebault, Jacques Guillemeau, Jacques Duval, and Louis de Serres. Edited and translated by Valerie Worth-Stylianou (Toronto:  University of Toronto Press, 2013), ISBN Softcover 978-0-7727-2138-9; Electronic 978-0-7727-2139-6.  (The electronic edition is available to institutions only.)

The flyer (hyperlinked) will allow you to purchase the book from the University of Toronto Press on its website with an early bird 20% discount should any of you be interested in ordering it for your university libraries.

Pregnancy and birth in early modern France

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Janette Allotey
School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work
University of Manchester
janette.allotey@manchester.ac.uk

 

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De Partu site maintenance

The De Partu site is currently undergoing maintenance. You will notice the new background image (from Muscio, courtesy of the Wellcome Library) and new member login with the logo above. I am pleased to report that I have now identified a solution to the member login issue. The new login box (to be found at the top right-hand corner of each page) will work with the existing member logins, and includes a password reminder facility. Access to the links, archive of blog posts and tag cloud is now restricted to members. Please keep a look out in the coming weeks for additional content, including new images and the full text of the 1936 Midwives Act to accompany those of 1902 and 1918.

Catherine Ebenezer, web editor

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Dr Louisa Owsley, midwife and homoeopath (Texas, late 19th century)

 Dr Louisa Owsley Dr Louisa Owsley – the first female homoeopath doctor of Denton County in Texas. She practised homoeopathic medicine and was a skilled midwife, delivering over 4,000 babies in her 34-year career. She was still working at age 75 when, one night in a bad storm, probably on her way to a delivery, her horse and cart were swept off a bridge, and she drowned.

More about Louisa Owsley

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Book launch: Birth control and the rights of women

Birth control and the rights of women: post-suffrage feminism in the early twentieth century

Birth control and the rights of women: post-suffrage feminism in the early twentieth century

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New resources

Full copies of the Midwives Acts of 1902 and 1918 have now been uploaded to the Resources page.

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Reading and talking about ‘The Woman’s Book’ in Renaissance England

Medical Humanities Sheffield is proud to launch a series of open interdisciplinary lectures, for students, staff and the public.

WEDNESDAY 26 February – 6 p.m. Firth Hall

Professor Jennifer Richards
Reading and Talking about The Woman’s Book in Renaissance England

“Most written knowledge about women’s bodies” in late medieval Europe, argues Monica H. Green, “is to be found in texts composed by male physicians and surgeons, for male physicians and surgeons (or if not for them, then for lay male patrons).” This paper sets out to test this claim, exploring the reception of one popular vernacular book, Thomas Raynalde’s The Birth of Mankind; otherwise named The Womans Booke (1545-1652). There is evidence of male readers annotating their copies of this book. One annotated copy (1565) belonged to the court physician William Ward, and the marginal notes he left behind are revealing: ‘This book in any case is not to be lent [to] anye body’. However, there is also evidence that this book was in fact lent quite widely, including to and by women. This paper will explore this evidence, and try to reconstruct this book’s reading and the discussion of it, not all of which was complimentary…. It will consider what this means for the early history of women’s healthcare and female literacy.

Jennifer Richards is Professor of Early Modern Literature and Culture in the School of English Literature at Newcastle University. She has published books on rhetoric and conversation with Cambridge University Press (2003) and Routledge (2007), and many essays including on the reading of vernacular medical books in the early modern period with Journal of the History of Ideas (2012) and Bulletin of the History of Medicine (forthcoming, 2014). She is currently writing a book on shared reading in early modern England with a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship, and, with Professor Richard Wistreich, Royal Northern College of Music, she is leading the AHRC Network ‘Voices and Books, 1500-1800′. She is an Associate Editor of the Edinburgh Companion to the Critical Medical Humanities.

Medical Humanities Sheffield

The interface between medicine and science on the one hand, and the arts and social sciences on the other hand, is one of the most exciting and important in modern academic life, offering unrivalled potential for multi-disciplinary work, policymaking, and public life. Medical Humanities Sheffield is sponsoring a series of open lectures in this exciting field.

http://mhs.group.shef.ac.uk/

No need to book ahead. Open to the Public.

Information related to this message is available at http://mhs.group.shef.ac.uk/.

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How it became almost mandatory for dads to attend the birth

Times have changed and it is now rare that a man does not attend the birth of his baby, but how did it come to pass and could things ever change back?

BBC News article 14/03/13. by Lucy Wallis

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The clinic of the birth: obstetric ultrasound, medical innovation and the clinico-anatomical project

Department of History and Philosophy of Science University of Cambridge

*** The Ninth Cambridge Wellcome Lecture in the History of Medicine ***

Thursday 16 January 2014 at 4.30pm

The clinic of the birth: obstetric ultrasound, medical innovation and the clinico-anatomical project

Malcolm Nicolson (University of Glasgow)

Ultrasonic images of the fetus are now ubiquitous. Like many innovations in medical imaging, the origins of obstetric ultrasound are often located in medical physics and engineering rather than to clinical medicine. I will argue, by contrast, for the crucial role of clinical pathology in the invention of diagnostic ultrasound. Several authors, notably Foucault in The Birth of the Clinic, have described the impact on nineteenth-century medicine of systematic correlation between lesions revealed upon dissection and signs and symptoms observed while the patient was still alive. Laboratory medicine is widely presented as having eclipsed the clinico-anatomical project in the twentieth century. This lecture will show that clinical pathology continued to inspire innovation in medical imaging after 1950. It will also argue that ultrasonic scanning is more like traditional forms of physical examination than is usually assumed.

There will be tea before the lecture, at 4pm, and a drinks reception afterwards, at 6pm.

*** Workshop ***

In addition, at 11.30am the same day Professor Nicolson will lead a discussion of a precirculated paper on James Young Simpson, the practice of gynaecological examination, and the nineteenth-century medical gaze.

Historians of gynaecology and obstetrics enjoy relating tales of the eighteenth-century man-midwife fumbling blindly under bedclothes or petticoats. Such stories serve to mark a vivid contrast between an older, backward form of practice and a reformed gynaecology led by far-sighted men like James Young Simpson, Edinburgh Professor of Midwifery and pioneer of obstetric analgesia. It is assumed that Simpson, as a disinterested scientific clinician, would have had unrestricted access to the bodies of his patients. The removal of prudish hindrances signals how far gynaecology had emancipated itself from a benighted past. However, reading Simpson, it is evident that, in mid century, the practitioner’s ability to examine female patients remained constrained by social conventions. Thus, the extent to which Simpson’s practice represents a complete departure from older modes of gynaecological work has been exaggerated. By the 1850s, the medical gaze had gained only partial and conditional access to the female body.

Lecture and workshop are free and open to all.
More information: http://www.hps.cam.ac.uk/medicine/wellcomelecture2014.html

Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RH.

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Regards socio-historiques sur la santé comme problème public

I am pleased to announce the following symposium:

Regards socio-historiques sur la santé comme problème public : don et transplantation d’organes, cancer, sida, dépendance au jeu et santé mentale [Historical and sociological perspectives on health as a public problem: organ donation, cancer, AIDS, gambling addiction and mental health].

This symposium will be held in French, on February 13th, 2014, at the University Institute of the History of Medicine and Public Health at Lausanne, Switzerland.

Programme and registration

For any queries, please contact: raphael.hammer@hesav.ch

Best wishes

Raphaël Hammer
University of Health Sciences (HESAV), Institute of Health Research, University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Wester Switzerland (HES-SO)
1011 Lausanne
Switzerland

Raphaël HAMMER, Professeur HES-S2,  Av. de Beaumont 21, 1011 Lausanne
t : +41 21 316 81 19
raphael.hammer@hesav.ch
www.hesav.ch

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Christmas greetings

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to everyone

Theotokos of Vladimir

from the Chair and Steering Group of De Partu

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New book: Menstruation and the female body in early modern England, by Sara Read

Read_productflyer-page-0

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9th annual Interdisciplinary Workshop on Reproduction

The 9th annual Interdisciplinary Workshop on Reproduction at Cambridge will be held on Friday Nov. 15th from 9.00 a.m. – 7.00 p.m. Registrations have unfortunately already closed, but the programme and Twitter coverage may be of interest.

Presentations this year range from oocyte preservation, to the emerging meanings of cells, to the role of motherhood. This year’s aim is to consider how reproduction is constructed and communicated within academic institutions and broader society.

Full programme list
Follow the dialogue on Twitter via the hashtag #Communicatingreproduction
Also see the IWR Facebook page

 

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BBC 4 series: Medieval lives: birth, marriage, death

medieval_lives_txCard_hires

Janette Allotey, Chair of De Partu, was interviewed by Helen Castor for the first programme in the series, which was broadcast on 9th October 2013. It will be available on BBC iPlayer to view or download until October 8th 2013.

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De Partu Anuual Lecture 2013

De Partu Anuual Lecture May 31st 2013: Professor Valerie Worth, University of Oxford.
“Who was present at the birth? Interpreting written and visual sources from early modern France.”

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Knit your own womb?

By Helen King (helen.king@open.ac.uk)

Sue Tully womb

It was one of those moments that only happens when academics and practitioners are in the same room…

For about a year, I had been thinking about the history of visual representations of body parts, and had been introducing audiences in the UK and beyond to some of the knitting patterns available to make a womb. On knitty.com, for example, you can find a pattern from the amazing M.K. Carroll which allows anyone with needles and some bright pink wool to make a ‘cuddly’ womb with pipe-cleaner fallopian tubes and ovaries. If you think I’m making this up, look at http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEwinter04/PATTwomb.html

M.K. Carroll took classes in anatomy and physiology which informed her work. But as she points out on the website, her knitted womb is ‘not completely anatomically accurate’. I was interested in two things here. First, the effect of knitting on making body parts look less terrifying and more ‘cuddly’, which is part of a wider movement in contemporary art towards knitting things that one would not normally associate with this medium; for example, cars (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OX1E8nSD_YI). Second, the choice of what to include in ‘a womb’. In M.K. Carroll’s womb, tubes and ovaries and cervix are all important, and the cervix needs to ‘look plump (“pouty”, if you will)’.

I mentioned this to the other members of the De Partu network, expecting the usual surprised response. Instead, they were not thrown in the slightest. ‘Oh yes’, they said, ‘we all know about knitted wombs. We have them, and we make them. They are very useful in parentcraft classes. Would you like us to show you our wombs?’

My jaw dropped. And once I saw the wombs, I was even more amazed and delighted. Firstly, because these wombs are not always brightly coloured – in fact, one of the 1960s patterns that was kindly supplied to me by Lynn Balmforth, the librarian of the National Childbirth Trust, makes it explicit that these should be made in neutral, non-scary, colours, to make the effect more ‘acceptable’. Nor are they supposed to be ‘lifelike’. And secondly, because these wombs don’t bother with the ovaries and tubes – irrelevant by this stage of the proceedings! – but focus on the size of the gravid uterus and on the role of the cervix. They are used to show how contractions work and how the cervix dilates. A ball, representing the head, is pushed through the cervix and a ribbon through the external os can be used to control this.

This photograph was sent to me by Sue Tully, who is a Senior Lecturer in Midwifery at Bournemouth University; it gives you the general idea, although this one contravenes the 1960s guidelines on colour schemes! If you have any images of knitted wombs or information on how they were used, I’d love to receive it.

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V M Whitworth shares her novel writing experiences

Whitworth-amended

 

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De Partu – Workshop 31st May

This gallery contains 2 photos.

Click on the thumbnail images to view details of this event:

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Prof Helen King (Open University) is Speaking at the Wellcome on 19 February 2013

 Professor  Helen King (Open University) 19 February 2013 at 18.00hrs.

‘Agnodice’s First Patient: Gendering Childbirth in Antiquity and Early Modern Europe’.

More details

 

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John Snow Celebration Event at the University of York – Friday 15th March 2013 – admission free

John Snow Celebration Event at the University of York 

Friday 15th March 2013

John Snow Event – Admission Free

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February 1st: it’s the day of the midwife!..

I have been advised that today, February 1st,  is St Bride’s day – the Celtic patron saint for midwives.  The pagan goddess  Brigit was  associated with fertility, childbirth, and cattle. On her feast day – which is also the Gaelic spring festival of Imbolc – Highland girls made the ‘last sheaf’ of the previous harvest into images of her, which were laid in a decorated cradle called ‘Bride’s bed’. Her flower is the snowdrop…

In Ireland it is  St Brigid’s day,   where ‘the  Bride of Kildare’ is said to have helped the Virgin give birth to Jesus and in so doing became known as  the protector of pregnant women and midwives. She also cared for Mary’s cows, hence her other title, ‘Christ’s milkmaid’.

For general (non academic purposes ) interest…

Wikipedia article: Brigit of Kildare

Have a good day,

Janette Allotey

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Home birth debate at University of Cambridge

This may be of interest to some of the list subscribers…
Best wishes,
Janette Allotey:

Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2012 10:27:32 +0100
From: Salim Al-Gailani
Subject: Debating Reproduction at the Cambridge Festival of Ideas

Cambridge Festival of Ideas
Debating Reproduction: Hospital Birth

1st November 2012
5.30pm – 7pm
Mill Lane Lecture Room 9, 8 Mill Lane
University of Cambridge

Around 1900, very few babies in Britain were born in hospitals; by the end
of the century, hardly any were not. The Wellcome Trust funded ‘Generation
to Reproduction Project’ presents a debate on the history of medical and
social issues surrounding this ‘revolution’ in childbirth.

The subject of the debate will be:

‘The hospitalization of childbirth has historically benefited birthing
women less than their doctors.’

In order to focus on historical perspectives, the debate will be framed
around the causes of the transition to the hospital and what it has meant
for birthing women, midwives and doctors. We ask why the place of birth
became so controversial in the decades after World War Two and continues to
polarize opinion.

Our panel includes: Cathy Warwick (General Secretary, Royal College of
Midwives), Hilary Marland (Professor of History, University of Warwick),
Tania McIntosh (Lecturer in midwifery and history of midwifery, University
of Nottingham), Joanna Kavenna (Novelist, author of The Birth of Love,
2010)

Bookings are filling rapidly. There is no charge, but pre-booking is
essential.

To book, email: sb491@cam.ac.uk

Dr Janette Allotey
University of Manchester
School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work,
University Place
Oxford Rd
Manchester
M13 9PL
tel +44(0)161 306 7732
Reception +44(0)161 306 7732

Janette C Allotey
Read more: Janette C Allotey

Campus map: www.manchester.ac.uk/visitors/travel/maps/numerical

Chair of De Partu: History of Childbirth Research Group
www.departu.org.uk

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New book – Nursing and midwifery in Britain since 1700

Nursing and midwifery in Britain since 1700, co-edited by Professors Billie Hunter and Anne Borsay, has just been published by Palgrave Macmillan.

It is a collection of essays that explore and compare the distinct histories of nursing and midwifery in Britain from the beginning of the eighteenth century to the modern day. The book is aimed at students and practitioners. There are chapters by De Partu members Alison Nuttall, Helen King and Christine Hallett,  as well as by Pat D’Antonio, Winifred Connerton, Anne-Marie Rafferty and Jane Sandall. A snip at £19.99!
More information

 

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Retelling familiar tales of pregnancy and birth: Oxford 3rd-4th July 2012

This conference brings together leading specialists from a range of the medical humanities to explore the trope of the retelling of stories about pregnancy and birth. Taking a very broad geographic and chronological focus, our objective is to encourage innovative interdisciplinary exchanges by addressing the following questions:

How did/do methods of diffusion (print culture, images, drama, ultrasound and modern medical technologies) encourage the retelling of familiar birthing tales, and how were/are new ones added?

Why did/do some stories of pregnancy and birth circulate more widely than others?

When stories are retold, which details of the original are always retained, which are lost in the retelling, and how and why do new accretions creep into the story?

Papers by some twenty researchers, from humanities, social sciences and health care, will be given over the two days, with generous time allowed for audience discussion and questions. We are grateful to the Wellcome Trust for a grant subsidising the conference.

Janette Allotey (Manchester), Helen King (Open University) Valerie Worth (Oxford)

Provisional programmeas (6/6/12)

Day 1:

11-12.15

Opening session: organisers’ introduction

Sharon Aviva Jones (Applied Drama, Goldsmith’s, London), ‘The Performance of Childbirth: Birth Stories and Rites of Passage in the UK today’

 Lisa Hinton (Health Experiences Research Group, Oxford), ‘Healthtalkonline and stories of birth’

 12.15 lunch

 14.00 Birth in fiction

 Véronique Duché (Languages and Literatures, Melbourne), ‘The birth of/in French fiction (16th Century)’

 Charlotte Woodford (German, Cambridge), ‘Feminist re-tellings of pregnancy and birth experiences in fin de siècle Germany’

 Giulia Zanini (Political and Social Sciences, Fiesole, Italy – PhD) ‘“The most beautiful thing that I remember about my childhood is the story of my birth”. Italian intended parents of donor-conceived children and the creation of family histories and fairy tales’

 15.30 teabreak

 16.00 Telling tales under God

 Rebecca Johnson (History, Princeton, US – PhD), ‘Dolores spatio quatuor dierum: Approaching Childbirth in Medieval Catalonia through a Miracle Attributed to Ramon de Peñafort’

 Vina Vaswani (Director, Centre for Ethics, Yenepoya University, Mangalore, India), ‘Reinforcing values in the birth of a baby through mythological/folk tales’

 17.00 Keynote, Monica Green (History, Arizona), “The Travels of Muscio:  Making Medieval Obstetrics out of a Late Ancient Text”

 Day 2:

9.30 The father’s tale
Holly Tucker (French and Italian/History of Medicine, Vanderbilt University, US), ‘Pregnant Men?:  Stories of Atypical Reproduction in Early Europe’

 Angela Davis and Laura King (History, Warwick), ‘Figure of Fun to Birthing Partner? Childbirth stories of and by fathers in post-war Britain’

 11.15 coffee

 11.30 Unusual births or mothers

Theresa Earenfight (History, Seattle), ‘Narratives of Regal Maternity in Late Medieval and Early Modern Spain’

 12.00 Midwives’ responses

Round table discussion

 12.30 lunch

 14.00 Powerful stories

The eighth-month-child: Lesley Bolton (Classics, Calgary), ‘The eighth-month child: Recasting an old medics’ tale: transmission and transformation of theories on inauspicious periods of gestation’

The wandering womb: Alison Klairmont Lingo (History, University of California, Berkeley) and Stephanie O’Hara (French/Women’s and Gender Studies) University of Massachusetts Dartmouth), ‘Capturing the Wandering Womb in the Early Modern Era: Louise Bourgeois and The Compleat Midwifes Practice

15.15 tea

 15.45 Tales from the experts

 The gynaecologist: Ramona A. Braun (History and Philosophy of Science, Cambridge), ‘Against the timebomb: Laparoscopic treatment of the ‘disease’ of ectopic pregnancy in gynaecologists’ accounts of the 1950s’

 The German ‘family midwife’: Jennifer Jaque-Rodney (International Delegate -
German Association of Midwives), ‘Family midwifery. Health promotion through bonding for mother and child’

 The doula: Holly Hendry and Dr Salma Siddique (Life, Sport and Social Sciences, Edinburgh Napier) ‘Stories retold in the spaces between pregnancy and childbirth’

 17.30 Midwives’ panel and general discussion

 Practical details

1) Dates and venue:

The conference will take place in Lady Margaret Hall, one of the colleges of Oxford University, on 3rd and 4th July 2012. Oxford is easily accessible by train or coach, and it is a 20-minute walk from the station to Lady Margaret Hall (or a short taxi ride). ). If you are arriving at Heathrow, there are regular buses to Oxford (Gloucester Green is the terminal you need in the city centre): see http://www.oxfordbus.co.uk/index.php. If you are arriving by car, we recommend you park in one of the city’s ‘park and ride’ car parks, as parking in the city centre is extremely limited!

2) Accommodation

The conference organisers are able to provide accommodation (in single rooms) for those giving papers at one of the north Oxford properties belonging to Trinity College. Other delegates might wish to use the website of rooms available at Oxford colleges to make their own accommodation bookings: http://www.oxfordrooms.co.uk/. Alternatively, information on hotels is available on Oxford city’s tourist website: http://www.oxfordcityguide.com/ee2/index.php?/TouristInfo/

3) Registration:

To register for the conference, please book completing the booking form and emailing it back to valerie.worth@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk by Friday 8th June 2012. Please note that the number of delegates attending is limited, so early booking is advised.

Payment should be made either by cheque (made payable to Trinity College Oxford), drawn on a UK bank, or by debit or credit card (charges to be handled by Trinity College Oxford). Once bookings have closed, you will be sent an email asking you to pay the total due for all bookings by Monday 19th June.

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Brighton born, Sussex bred: the story of Brighton’s maternity hospitals, 1830-2007, by Harry Gaston

Brighton born, Sussex bred: the story of Brighton's maternity homes

This book by Harry Gaston, a local historian, has recently been published. According to the blurb, “Brighton Born, Sussex Bred shows how maternity care has developed over the last 200 years in Brighton and Hove and nationally … Fully illustrated, the book includes the experiences of mothers and midwives from the 1950′s to 1980’s as they tell  their birth stories.”

The book is on sale via the Friends of Brighton and Hove Hospitals at £12.00 per copy including postage and packing: please order using this form.

 

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Recently published: A social history of maternity and childbirth: key themes in maternity care, by Tania McIntosh

A Social History of Maternity and ChildbirthPublished 5th March 2012 by Routledge – 188 pages

This new work considers the significance of the regulation and training of midwives and doctors, exploring important aspects of maternity care including efforts to tackle maternal deaths, the move of birth from home to hospital, and the rise of consumer groups. Using oral histories and women’s memoirs, as well as local health records and contemporary reports and papers, this book explores the experiences of women and families, and includes the voices of women, midwives and doctors.

Key themes are discussed throughout, including:
•the work and status of the midwife
•the place of birth
•pain relief
•ante- and post-natal care
•women’s pressure groups
•high-tech versus low-tech
•political pressures.

At a time when the midwifery profession, and the wider structure of maternity care, is a matter for popular and political debate, this book is a timely contribution.

Tania McIntosh is the Secretary of De Partu.

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Documentary ‘A Picture of Health’: BBC One 27th February 2012 9.15 a.m.

The next programme in the BBC One documentary series A Picture of Health, presented by Larry Lambis due to be broadcast on  Monday 27th February at 9.15 a.m. It discusses how the role of a father-to-be has changed. De Partu provided the film company with assistance and nominated several possible interviewees, including a member of our steering group, Julia Allison, who made such an impression on the producers that she was invited to be involved in a subsequent programme with Larry Lamb and Angela Rippon!!

Julia on location at Knaresborough

Julia on location at Knaresborough

 

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From here to maternity: Lakeside explores the history of having babies

MODERN mothers-to-be in Nottinghamshire might debate the merits of a home birth versus a hospital delivery, but for their grandmothers or great-grandmothers, the choice simply didn’t exist.

A new exhibition, Mothers And Midwives: A History Of Maternity in the East Midlands, at Lakeside Arts Centre, looks at the reasons for this dramatic change, and the impact it has had on women, families, midwives and communities in the region.

The FREE exhibition runs from 13 January to 15 April with lunchtime talks in January, February and March to amplify themes explored in the display.

The experience of having a baby has changed dramatically over the last hundred years. It has moved from a social and domestic occurrence, attended by a sole neighbourhood midwife, to a more medicalised one which predominantly occurs in hospital. Midwives still deliver about 70% of all babies born and are usually the only professional in attendance.

The exhibition explores the development through historical and contemporary sources, covering issues surrounding pregnancy, birth, and the early weeks of caring for an infant. There are historic midwifery records, photographs, and equipment relating to midwifery and baby care. Historic material from the Manuscripts and Special Collections at the University of Nottingham provides extracts from published sources as well as letters and diaries on the subject, and reveals illuminating archives of medical understanding and accepted practice from earlier times.

A series of talks throughout the exhibition will draw on the firsthand experiences of those who have delivered babies in a very different era, as well as offer insights from historical experts.

Shona Powell, director of Lakeside, said: ‘This fascinating exhibition traces the evolution of our experiences of giving birth in the 20th and 21st centuries. The customs and decisions around how we bring babies into the world is such a lively topic for debate in every generation. It’s so interesting to see how we’ve moved from putting this momentous event in the hands of someone familiar to us in our home, to a risk-averse attitude where we have the advantages and interventions of modern medicine – but it can become more depersonalised. I think younger visitors will be amazed at how much has changed in such a short space of time. The exhibition will be a must-see for parents and anyone with an interest in our local social history.’

Dr Tania McIntosh, a lecturer in midwifery at the University of Nottingham who has worked with Manuscripts and Special Collections to develop the exhibition, explained: ‘Pregnancy and birth are universal experiences and this exhibition taps into that by showcasing the many different types of evidence which can help to tell the story of birth through the ages.  It is also important to collect material relating to very domestic issues such as birth; they are as important to our understanding of society as wars or revolutions.  If you are inspired by the exhibition to search your cupboards or attics for family photos or papers about birth, or have your own story to tell, then we would be very interested in hearing from you.’

The lunchtime talks will be:

Infant Welfare

Wednesday January 18

Dr Denise Amos, researcher for the Nottinghamshire Heritage Gateway and co-curator of ‘Mothers and Midwives’ examines the patterns and causes for the significant number of infant deaths at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century in three East Midlands towns: Nottingham, Leicester and Derby.

From Home To Hospital

Wednesday February 15

Using contemporary records, pictures and interviews, Dr Tania McIntosh, principal curator of ‘Mothers And Midwives,’ explores the changing experience of birth in the 20th century and the reasons why it became a medical rather than domestic event.

Midwifery In the District

Wednesday March 14

Julia Allison, former district midwife in Nottingham, past-President of the Royal College of Midwives and author of ‘Delivered At Home’, a history of district midwifery in Nottingham, will talk about the development of district midwifery and the experience of having a baby ‘on the district’. 

Places for the talks are limited, so please book your tickets as soon as possible with the Box Office on 0115 8467777.

The exhibition runs from now until Sunday 15 April and is free to visit. It is open from 11 am-4 pm Monday to Friday, and 12 noon-4 pm Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays (but closed Easter Sunday). It is at the Weston Gallery, DH Lawrence Pavilion, University of Nottingham.

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Call The Midwife: new drama series for BBC One

The BBC has announced further details of Call The Midwife, a major new drama series for BBC One in 2012 by Neal Street Productions.  It is starting on Sunday 15th January 2012 at 8pm on BBC1.  It is based of course on the best-selling memoirs of the late Jennifer Worth.

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International Confederation of Midwives records now available

The cataloguing of the records of the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) is now completed and the catalogue is available online at the Wellcome Library, reference SA/ICM.

The ICM is at the forefront of international policy development to influence and promote midwifery at global and national levels, and to pro-actively support international strategies to improve maternal and child health, for the achievement of ‘Safe Motherhood’ for all women.

More on this story from the Wellcome Library blog …

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