1st Edition

Midwives in History and Society

By Jean Towler, Joan Bramall Copyright 1986

    Originally published in 1986, this book examines the history of midwifery, concentrating on 19th and 20th Century Britain. It shows how the evolution of the midwife has been influenced by cultural waves which started in the Near East and Egypt in pre-classical times and slowly spread Northwards and Eastwards over Europe. The authors emphasize the effects of specialization and professionalization upon midwifery and also the influence of male authority and interest group politics. The evolution of the educated qualified midwife of the 20th Century is recorded, leading up to the ongoing debates about high technology birth vis-à-vis natural birth and home deliveries.

    1. In the Beginning 2. Midwives in Early History 3. Customs and Practices Associated with Childbearing in the Dark Ages and Medieval Period 4. The Emergence of English Midwives and European Influences on Midwifery Practice 5. The Development of Midwifery as a Science and the Beginning of Obstetrics in England 6. He-Midwife or She-Midwife? Eighteenth-Century Midwives and their Battle for Survival 7. Nineteenth-Century Midwives and their Struggle for State Recognition 8. The Twentieth-Century State Certified Midwife 9. The Midwife’s Battle for Survival 10. The Reappraisal of Childbirth Practices and the Restoration of the Midwife. Appendix 1: Statutory Bodies and Legislation Appendix 2: Central Midwives Board.


    Jean Towler and Joan Bramall

    Reviews of the original edition of Midwives in History and Society:

    ‘The authors’…professional outlook distinguishes this work from those of academic and doctors and enables them to present some valuable insights, especially in the later chapters focussing on the Twentieth Century.’ Jane Eliot Sewell, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Vol 62, Issue 1