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
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
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.
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.
For any queries, please contact: email@example.com
University of Health Sciences (HESAV), Institute of Health Research, University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Wester Switzerland (HES-SO)
Raphaël HAMMER, Professeur HES-S2, Av. de Beaumont 21, 1011 Lausanne
t : +41 21 316 81 19
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.
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.
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.”
By Helen King (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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.
Professor Helen King (Open University) 19 February 2013 at 18.00hrs.
‘Agnodice’s First Patient: Gendering Childbirth in Antiquity and Early Modern Europe’.
John Snow Celebration Event at the University of York
Friday 15th March 2013
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…
Have a good day,
This may be of interest to some of the list subscribers…
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
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,
Bookings are filling rapidly. There is no charge, but pre-booking is
To book, email: email@example.com
Dr Janette Allotey
University of Manchester
School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work,
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
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!
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)
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’
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’
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”
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’
11.30 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
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’
15.45 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
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!
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/
To register for the conference, please book completing the booking form and emailing it back to firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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.
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
•ante- and post-natal care
•women’s pressure groups
•high-tech versus low-tech
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.
The next programme in the BBC One documentary series A Picture of Health, presented by Larry Lamb, is 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!!
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:
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.
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.
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.
The Centre for the History of Medicine and Disease is delighted to announce a forthcoming exhibition:
An exhibition of the history of the public images of embryos and foetuses will take place in the Holliday Building at Durham University’s Queen’s Campus in Stockton-on-Tees from Friday 7th October until Friday 9th December.
The Foetus Goes Public looks at how images of embryos and foetuses shape our understanding of life and reproduction. This exhibition tells the fascinating story of how the foetus moved from obscure medieval manuscripts to become a public icon in the twentieth century that, today, is available to everyone at any time through the internet.
Dr Lutz Sauerteig from the Centre for the History of Medicine and Disease will officially open the exhibition on 7th October at 1.30 pm.
The exhibition is accompanied by a series of public lectures :
Prof John McLachlan (School of Medicine and Health), ‘Imagining the Embryo’ (21 October, 12.45pm, Holliday Building, Room A011).
Dr Nadja Reissland (Department of Psychology), ‘Fetal Crying: Is the Fetal Cry Face Gestalt Associated with Prenatal Depression and Attachment?’ (11 November, 10.00 am, Wolfson Research Institute, Room F009).
Dr Sebastian Pranghofer (CHMD and Department of Philosophy), ‘Personhood Before Birth? Early Modern Images of the Unborn’ (25 November, 12.45pm, Holliday Building, Room A015/016).
Entry to the exhibition and the lectures is free.
Centre for the History of Medicine and Disease
Wolfson Research Institute, Durham University
Queen’s Campus, University Boulevard
Stockton-on-Tees TS17 6BH
Tel: 0191 334 0700
A message from the Project Archivist at the RCOG , Clare Sexton:
The top-level descriptions of organisational records of the Royal College of Midwives are now searchable via the Archives Hub: http://archiveshub.ac.uk/.
This is the direct link to the overview to the collection – http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb1538rcm
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
27 Sussex Place
020 7772 6263
Listen to Helen King discussing Hippocrates on ‘In Our Time’ with Melvyn Bragg (and Vivian Nutton and Peter Pormann). Broadcast on Radio 4 on 15/09/11; now available via the BBC website.
With thanks to Tania McIntosh for signposting this programme on MIDWIFERY-HISTORY.
The RCM has now transferred its archives and library books to the RCOG library in Regent’s Park, London.
The archives have been catalogued, and anyone wishing to view the material is invited to contact the temporary archivist, Clare Sexton, at the RCOG.
The draft catalogue is now available to De Partu members via the Members’ area of the website.
Some of the De Partu steering group members were recently invited to the RCOG, and enjoyed viewing some of the material. Clare is working on some resource guides to the collection that will soon appear on the RCOG website: http://www.rcog.org.uk/what-we-do/information-services/resource-information.
The collection is now completely accessible to RCM members. Others are welcome to view them in the reading room at the RCOG by prior arrangement. Clare can arrange for items to be retrieved in advance of your visit.
The catalogue will soon be freely available via the Archives Hub: http://archiveshub.ac.uk.
We are informed that the Robin Gibb episode of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ will now be shown on Wednesday 21st September 2011 at 21:00. This is due to changes being made to the schedules by the BBC.
Wall to Wall Media (the producers) hope that you will be tuning in.
The company has expressed thanks to De Partu and members of the MIDWIFERY-HISTORY JISCmail list for the assistance given to the researchers for the Robin Gibb episode, in which one of Robin’s ancestors, who was a midwife in Salford, is to be featured.
The work of Don Shelton, featured in his article ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 103 (2010) 46–50., where he claims that the eighteenth-century men-midwives William Smellie and William Hunter had women murdered to order, to provide the illustrations for their impressive atlases of obstetrics, has given rise to considerable controversy.
Helen King discusses his work in a recent article ‘History WIthout Historians? Medical History and the Internet‘, Social History of Medicine, published online ahead of print 8th June 2011, which she has based on a paper delivered at the De Partu colloquium held in Manchester in June 2010. She argues that Shelton’s claims raise fresh questions about how medical history is generated, presented and evaluated in the media and, in particular, on the internet. She traces the generation and subsequent reception of what, for some, has now become a ‘historical fact’, in order to illustrate how attempts by medical historians to engage with policy and with the public exist alongside a shift towards the deprofessionalisation of history.