Delivering maternity care: midwives and midwifery in Birmingham and its environs, 1794-1881

Badger, Frances Jane (2014). Delivering maternity care: midwives and midwifery in Birmingham and its environs, 1794-1881. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis examines the working milieu of midwives in the urban west midlands, primarily Birmingham and Coventry, between 1794 and 1881. Adopting a microhistorical approach, and by integrating sources including a midwife’s register, lying-in charity and poor law records, the thesis argues that developments in midwifery provision over the period mainly arose from local factors and circumstances, however some metropolitan influences can also be discerned. Reasons for the relatively late introduction of midwifery training in the locality, and the minimal interest by local midwives are considered, alongside evidence of midwives’ awareness of the varying reputation of their occupation. This research indicates that midwives worked for a range of clients including charities, the poor law and private clients, and midwifery could be combined with other strands of caring work, or even work unrelated to caring. The analysis illustrates the existence of full-time, sustained midwifery careers and of midwives who achieved a middle-class lifestyle, and a degree of status within their localities. Combined with the evidence of entrepreneurial approaches to midwifery, the thesis argues that these provincial midwives should be integrated into the historiography of businesswomen.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Medical & Dental Sciences
School or Department: School of Health and Population Sciences
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics


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