Derogatory statements about Midwives

by the Medical Establishment


~The question in my mind is not “what shall we do with the midwife?” We are totally indifferent as to what becomes of her...[1912-B, p.225] ^99

The midwife is a relic of barbarism. In civilized countries the midwife is wrong, has always been wrong. The greatest bar to human progress has been compromise, and the midwife demands a compromise between right and wrong. All admit that the midwife is wrong. [1915-C; DeLeeMD.p. 114] ^93

We can get along very nicely without the midwife, whereas all are agreed that the physician is indispensable[1912-B, p.222 ] ^98

Any scheme for improvement in obstetric teaching and practice which does not contemplate the ultimate elimination of the midwife will not succeed. This is not alone because midwives can never be taught to practice obstetrics successfully, but most especially because of the moral effect upon obstetric standards.” (“The Teaching of Obstetrics”, American Association of Obstetrics and Gynecologists) ^94

~Dr. Hardin: It is very important that the class of people using midwives be educated to use doctors; but the question of how to educate them is another problem. These people do not read much. I think the public health nurse coming in direct contact with the mothers in the homes and giving individual instructions will go far towards solving this problem. 1925-A HardinMD, p. 350 ^95

~The facts reported (! ) indicate that the quality of the work done (by doctors) is far superior to the services rendered by the average midwife. [1912-A, TAASPIM, section on Midwifery, p.219]^101

~From the nature of things, it is impossible to do away with the doctor, but he may be educated in time; while the midwife can be abolished if necessary. Consequently, we should direct our efforts to reforming the existing practitioners and to so changing our methods of training students as to make the doctor of the future reasonably competent.” 1911-B; WilliamsMD p.180 ^96

~State licenses, state control, high standards of education, annual renewal of license, critical and constant supervision of the midwife; encouragement to trained nurses to take out midwife licenses and further extension of dispensary maternity services, will mitigate the midwife evil, reduce the ranks of the midwife and render the remaining ones less a menace in the country and pave the road for their final elimination.” [1915-A; EdgarMD] ^97

~The midwife never has and never can make good until she becomes a practicing physician thoroughly trained; that midwives should not be licensed save in those states where they are so numerous that they cannot be abolished at once; and concluding with the third question by showing how midwives can be gradually abolished [1911-C; Emmons & Huntington,MD, p. 199]^100

The following excerpts are taken from a 1881 obstetrical text book
in a discussion between doctors about women and menstruation

~Dr. Keiller: (discussing methods to prevent puerperal fever) “...he wished to insist on was that the nurses should not live in the Maternity Hospital, but some place near. He thought that they should specially insist on women being very cleanly in their persons, especially during their menstruation. 1881-A ^102

~Dr. Taylor alluded to a correspondence which appeared some years ago in the British Medical Journal, affirmative of the truth ..., that a woman during her menstrual period was unfit to manipulate ham in the process of curing, the general experience being that ham so treated did not keep. ...The truth was, that ... as a rule, the result of intelligent observation and sagacious inference, and this one, at least, was supported by not only amply testimony, but constantly recurring experience. They were all aware that whilst in some women menstruation was a comparatively local process, in others it was accompanied by characteristic emanations from the rest of the body, and these, proceeding from the hands and reaching the pork in the process of rubbing, could hardly fail to contaminate it. In the same manner, if these emanation be brought into contact with the raw surfaces which seem to be a necessary contingent of parturition, how much more rapidly and certainly will mischief be done! If it affects raw pork, notwithstanding the intervention of salt used in rubbing, how much more rapidly will it be absorbed to the detriment of a living organism. Hence there is great need for the precautions which Dr. Keiller suggests. Not only should the nurses be separately housed, but the grave question forces itself upon us, Should a menstruating women be allowed to nurse at all in cases of parturition?” [1881-A ]^103


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