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


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Oral Presentation

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Department or Program

History and American Studies


College of Arts and Sciences

Faculty Mentor #1

Poska, Allyson


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.

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