Directory to PDFs on historical and legal documents on Midwifery and Obstetrics

by faithgibson on January 15, 2021

Doctor doing a “modest” vaginal exam on a Victorian upper-class woman

Click the following links to open these PDF documents.

A. Topics relative to the history, legislation, licensing, politics, and practice of California Licensed Midwives

ACOG Committee Opinion #108_Ethical Dimensions of Informed Consent_May-1992 copy


MBC_Mfry-Licnsng-Implemntation-Committee_Mar-01-1994_Hx-Issues_Implementation-mfry-licensng_written-by-Danielle Blackmore-BS_1994 copy

B. Topics relative to the history and politics of American obstetrics, organized medicine (AMA) and midwifery

How can we best solve the Midwifery Problem_by Charles Edward Zeigler, MD, 1922

Read Note First: The word “midwifery“, as used in this title and in this published speech by Dr Ziegler, refers to the medical discipline taught in medical schools that prepared graduate physicians to attend “cases of normal childbirth”and these doctors most often referred to themselves as “man-midwives“. This title stopped being used during the first decade of the 20th century but the medical ‘arts’ associated with MDs who attended births  continued to be described as “midwifery”.

While the art and science of keeping the mother alive while getting the (preferably live) baby out — was taught in medical schools by “professor of obstetrics“, but still word “midwifery” continue to  be used when referring doctors who delivered babies. The title “obstetrician” was not yet in regular use. When it was, it was used to distinguish doctors trained in the hospital-based surgical speciality from GP physician who delivered babies at home (95% of all births).

The “midwife problem” described the problem that doctors were having in their efforts to make it illegal for midwives to practice midwifery.

In this speech by Dr. Ziegler, he pejoratively refers to “midwives” as untrained and unsafe but when he talks about “how best to solve the problem of midwifery”, and the “danger” of poorly trained birth attendants, he is referring to the dismissal track record of doctors — general practice physicians who often don’t know what they are doing, who have been jaded with their childbirth duties, wait til the last minute to show up, hasen the birth by doing an episiotomy and often using forcep as well, and so they can leave as quickly as possible to get on to more important word, do an unnecessary and dangerous manual removal of the placenta, thus exposing the newly delivered mother to the twin fatal complications of postpartum hemorrhage and septicemia (“blood poisoning”).

I say all this because the medical literature of the early 1900s (1900-to late 1930s) often laments the about the various problems with “midwifery” — a remark that its authors aimed squarely at poor trained doctors — but which is assumed by contemporary readers to refer to midwives assumed to be untrained, have dirt under their fingernails and to be intoxicated as they wander around in a haze, and in the minds of these influential professors of obstetrics