Coming Home: Modern Midwifery and the Controversy over Home Birth

Lecture Description

In a decade that witnessed Watergate, violence in Vietnam, and social unrest at home, childbirth—specifically how and where women gave birth—took on particular significance in the United States. The most dramatic manifestation of this was a broad-based move toward alternative forms of childbirth. A quiet revolution spread across cities and suburbs, towns and farms, as these individuals challenged legal, institutional and medical protocols by choosing unlicensed midwives to catch their babies at home. Because the United States had virtually eliminated midwifery by the mid-twentieth century, most of these newer rebels had little knowledge of or exposure to the historic practice, drawing primarily on obstetrical texts, trial and error, and sometimes instruction from aging home birth physicians to learn their craft. While their constituents were primarily drawn from the educated white middle class, their model of care (which ultimately drew on the wisdom and practice of a more diverse, global pool of midwives) had the potential to transform birth practices for all women, both in and out of the hospital.

CATEGORIES

Family Women

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