History of Midwifery
Midwifery is an occupation based on helping women through the childbirth process that has played a significant role through history. “It is generally recognised that the midwife has been with us since biblical times and that midwifery is the oldest female occupation and without doubt one of the most important” (Marland 1993).
However the development of midwifery over the past number of centuries has positioned it, as an occupation, with relatively limited status and authority as compared to medicine. This series of short articles discuss the changes in midwifery practice and status from pre-industrial to contemporary times.
Please select an article below to view the content.
Introduction to Midwifery
Part 1 of "A History of Midwifery in the Western World" a paper by Professor B Gail Thomas. You can also download a PDF of the full paper on this page.
Midwifery in Britain: Pre Twentieth Century
Part 2 of "A History of Midwifery in the Western World" looking at Pre-Industrial Midwifery, Medicine in Childbirth, Science as Authority, Science and Medicine and Men in Midwifery.
Midwifery in the United States (U.S.)
Part 3 of "A History of Midwifery in the Western World" looking at Midwifery in the United States.
Midwifery in Britain in the Twentieth Century
Part 4 of "A History of Midwifery in the Western World" looking The Central Midwives Board and Legislation, Supervision and Patterns of Care.
History of Midwifery: Conclusion and References
Part 5 of "A History of Midwifery in the Western World" featuring the Conclusion and References for the paper.
Audio Clips: Midwifery
Many participants trained as midwives at some point during their careers.