Owning the Birthing Room: Self-advocacy and Proof of Authority in Seventeenth Century Midwifery Manuals

by H. Sumner Bridenbaugh

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Allyson Poska

Midwives had long been considered experts in pregnancy and childbirth prior to the Scientific Revolution and the professionalization of the medical field. However, in the late seventeenth century, we see an interest in the realm of childbirth from male surgeons and physicians seeking scientific understandings of pregnancy and women’s bodies, who began to publish pamphlets and treatises on their findings. However, by analyzing midwifery manuals written by seventeenth-century women, such as Justine Siegemund and Jane Sharp, we can see midwives were on an equal level of medical and anatomical understanding as male practitioners from their experiential education and were uniquely qualified for their position.

Owning the Birthing Room: Self-advocacy and Proof of Authority in Seventeenth Century Midwifery Manuals

3 Replies to “Owning the Birthing Room: Self-advocacy and Proof of Authority in Seventeenth Century Midwifery Manuals”

  1. This is a fascinating subject, and your research is very enlightening about midwives as professionals in the seventeenth century. In my studies in the Spanish context, it seems that by the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries male physicians try to take over obstetrics. Great job!

  2. Wonderful job, Sumner. I really enjoyed your talk and especially the strong use of these two early modern manuals. Nice job and congratulations!

Comments are closed.