The following new publications will soon be available for review:
— The Myth of the Perfect Pregnancy: A History of Miscarriage in America by Lara Freidenfelds (Oxford University Press, 2020)
— Midwifery from the Tudors to the Twenty-First Century: History, Politics and Safe Practice in England, by Julia Allison (Routledge, 2020)
NB the latter is in PDF format only; publishers are no longer posting out review copies owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
Please contact the Book Review Editor, Dr Alison Nuttall (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested in reviewing either of these titles.
Hearn, Karen (2020) Portraying Pregnancy: from Holbein to Social Media
We are seeking from among our membership a reviewer for this book, which is being published in conjunction with an exhibition of the same name at the Foundling Museum in London. The review will be published on the websites both of De Partu and of the British Society for the History of Medicine. Please email Alison Nuttall if you are interested: email@example.com.
Hearn, Karen (2020). Portraying Pregnancy: from Holbein to Social Media
London: Paul Holberton Publishing
Paperback, 242 x 168 mm
144 pages, 60 illustrations
Coming home: how midwives changed birth, by Wendy Kline (Oxford University Press, 2019) is reviewed by Professor Rosemary Mander.
Catherine M Morrison (2017)
Hebridean heroines: twentieth-century Queen’s Nurses (1940s-1970s)
(reviewed by Dr Alison Nuttall), and
Jennifer Evans and Sara Read (2017)
Maladies and medicine: exploring health and healing 1540-1740
(reviewed by Carole McGlone).
Terri Coates’ review of Annelisa Christensen’s historical novel, The Popish midwife, is now available. It is based on the life of the 17th-century Roman Catholic midwife Elizabeth Cellier.
The book is available from Amazon and all good bookshops. It is also available on Kindle and directly from The Conrad Press website.
The author’s blog discusses her inspiration for writing the book: The Popish midwife (why I wrote her story).
We are looking forward to debating “creative non-fiction” and historical veracity at our forthcoming meeting in York.
Since the creation of the modern prison system in the mid-nineteenth century, women have been imprisoned separately from their male criminal counterparts. While some historical attention has been afforded to the running of female-only prisons and how this differed from the regimes imposed in male prisons, I am seeking to question if gender distinctions impacted upon the provision of medical care within female prisons. I work as a Research Fellow on the ‘Prisoners, Medical Care and Entitlement to Health in England and Ireland’ project, which is funded by a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award. Please see our website Exploring the History of Prisoner Health for more information.
A major part of my research focuses upon maternity care and childbirth provisions and practices in women’s prisons between the mid-nineteenth century and the present. The research examines the conditions in which pregnant women were incarcerated. It draws upon evidence showing that the medical examination of women upon entry into the prison was often very brief and perfunctory. In addition, it shows that, until they were at a very advanced stage of pregnancy, women were often subject to the normal prison routine, including being locked in solitary confinement for long periods. This was liable to cause psychological stress exacerbated by the limited availability of emergency attention. Furthermore, it examines the extent to which there were specialised maternity facilities in prison hospitals as well as specially trained staff on hand to offer medical assistance to pregnant women. Within this, it questions if there were provisions in place for midwifery visits and contact with health visitors, particularly after the turn of the twentieth century.
Something I would very much like to do is establish contact with people, particularly midwives, who have experience of, or a research interest in, maternity and childbirth in English or Irish women’s prisons. Whether people have years of experience or only a small amount of experience, any information or experiences that people would like to share would be greatly appreciated. The kind of things I would be particularly interested in include: the treatment of pregnant inmates, including provisions for them to attend antenatal classes and if, and how, things such as their diet and exercise were tailored, or not, to their pregnancy. Under what conditions are pregnant women incarcerated and at what stage in their pregnancy would they be moved to hospital? In addition, I would be interested in any information regarding the conditions and care offered to women and their infants in Mother Baby Units in prisons.
Please do get in touch if you would like further information about the project or the research. In the meantime, I would very much like to hear from anyone who has an interest in maternity and midwifery care in prisons. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or through De Partu.
Thank you and I look forward to hearing from, and hopefully meeting, some of you soon!
Around 1900, few pregnant women in Western Europe or North America had any contact with a medical practitioner before going into labour. By the end the twentieth century, the hospitalisation of childbirth, the legalisation of abortion and a host of biomedical technologies from the Pill and IVF to obstetric ultrasound and prenatal diagnosis had dramatically extended the reach of science and medicine into human reproduction. A special issue of Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences published this month reflects on the social, medical and technological shifts that have shaped the experience and management of pregnancy since the turn of the twentieth century. Originating in a workshop held in Cambridge in 2012 supported by the Wellcome Trust-funded ‘Transforming Pregnancy Since 1900 project, the special issue is edited by Dr Salim Al-Gailani (University of Cambridge) and Dr Angela Davis (University of Warwick).
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.
School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work
University of Manchester
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.
Published 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
•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 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.
- De Partu at ICM 2011
Dr Tania McIntosh, Secretary of De Partu (centre) with Professor Billie Hunter, member of De Partu Steering Group (right) and Dr Jayne Marshall, first member of De Partu, in front of poster at the ICM in Durban, South Africa, 19-23 June 2011
The history of midwifery was well represented at the conference with not only the poster advertising our work, but an oral history workshop run by Billie and Tania, and a paper given by Tania on the history of English district midwifery. The workshop was over-subscribed, and generated a real buzz about the possibilities of history. Several people talked of using oral history, as well as written sources, to explore the history of indigenous and traditional midwives.