The Control of Childbirth

Women Versus Medicine Through the Ages


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SKU: 9780786433629 Categories: , ,

About the Book

When childbirth moved from women’s homes into hospitals, women lost more than they had bargained for. As the event became increasingly male-dominated and medically oriented, women’s control of the experience all but vanished. Worse, recent clinical trials have demonstrated that most modern interventions and technological practices have not improved delivery outcomes and are not necessary in normal labor and birth. From pre-classical to present times, this work describes childbirth practices as they have developed through the ages. The author describes and critiques the evolution of modern midwifery and obstetrics, focusing especially on how, why, and when the process of childbirth became an increasingly sterile, male-dominated, and medically oriented event. Each chapter focuses on a different period, from the age of the female midwife (who oversaw the childbirth process for several centuries), through the origins of modern obstetrics and gynecology, and finally, to the increasing influence of technology in the practices that have prevailed for most of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

About the Author(s)

Phyllis L. Brodsky has been a nurse, hospital clinical educator, and university instructor. Also the author of articles and chapters in journals and manuals, she lives in Berlin, Maryland.

Bibliographic Details

Phyllis L. Brodsky

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 222
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3362-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Foreword by Mary Ann Shah      1
Preface      5
Introduction      7

1. Childbirth in Primitive and Ancient Times      11
2. The Middle Ages: An Era of Despair and Persecution      22
3. The Sixteenth Century: A Renaissance      35
4. The Seventeenth Century: Men and Their Instruments      44
5. The Eighteenth Century: Men and Science      54
6. The Nineteenth Century: Men and Disease      67
7. Childbirth in Early America      85
8. Nineteenth-Century America: The Birth of Obstetrics and Gynecology      97
9. Early Twentieth-Century America: The “Midwife Problem” and Medicalized Childbirth      117
10. The Second Half of the Twentieth Century: Technology-Managed Childbirth, By Edna Quinn      137
11. The Twenty-First Century: Technological Childbirth Challenged      162
12. Conclusion: Women in Power      179

Notes      185
Bibliography      201
Index      209

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “recommended”—Choice
  • “how and why women became excluded from their own child-bearing experience and how this power can be regained. Readers get coverage of the centuries-long battles between midwives and physicians”—Library Journal
  • “Anyone who is teaching Childbirth classes to the public and those nurses who work labor and delivery need to read this book. The well researched history was excellent”—Linda Barnes, RN Educator