1st Edition

Midwives and Medical Men A History of the Struggle for the Control of Childbirth

By Jean Donnison Copyright 1988

    Originally published in 1977 and as a second edition in 1988, this book introduces the reader to the women at the top of the midwifery profession up until the 17th Century who attended the aristocracy and Royalty. The author shows how their successors were gradually driven out of the better paid work until in the middle of the 19th Century it appeared that attendance on childbearing women would inevitably become the male monopoly it has virtually become in North America. This downward trend was reversed, thanks to efforts to preserve for women the choice of female attendance in childbirth and also to the labour of philanthropists to improve maternity services to the poor. However, the drive for the institutionalization and mechanization of childbirth during the 20th Century as well as a chronic shortage of midwives, has once again shone a spotlight on the profession. This unique history of developments in midwifery will be of interest to students of medical politics, 19th Century social history, the sociology of the professions and gender studies.

    1. The Office of Midwife: A Female Mystery 2. The Decline of the Midwife 3. The Ascendancy of Men 4. The Turn of the Tide 5. Midwives for the Poor 6. Medical Men and Midwives Bills 7. State Register or Local Licence? 8. The Midwives Act, 1902 9. State Certified Midwife 10. Has the Midwife a Future?


    Jean Donnison

    Reviews for the first edition of Midwives and Medical Men:

    ‘The book is invaluable reading for all students and qualified staff.’ Health Services

    ‘…a valuable documentation of the shifting relationships between various interest and groups over the long period when the structure of childbirth management in Britain was subject to radical change.’ Times Education Supplement

    ‘Jean Donnison’s…book gives a unique, well-researched and richly documented account of the professionalization of midwifery.’ British Journal of Sociology

    ‘This is a scholarly book but filled with fascinating detail. Dr. Donnison documents in detail the degree to which the physicians and surgeons obstructed the improvement in midwifery standards and the regulation of the profession.’ The Guardian