Day 3 ~ Historical & contemporary comments by physicians about midwives ~ 1820 to 2014

by faithgibson on April 3, 2016

in Contemporary Childbirth Politics, Historical Childbirth Politics 1820-1980

A 30-day series of quotes spanning two hundred years ~ click here to begin with Day 1

You can also read the entire series as a single post

Day 3 ~ 1903 to 1907

1903 ~ Quoted from Dr J. W. Williams’ famous textbook, Williams’ Obstetric, first edition, published in 1903

Dr. Joulin (1867) and other observers have attempted to solve the problem by calculating the force exerted in forceps deliveries.

Thus, on interpolating a dynamometer between the operator and the ends of the instrument, it was found that the tractile force rarely exceeded 80, though in some cases it reached 100 pounds. A greater force than this cannot come into play, as it has been shown that .. 120 pounds is sufficient to tear the child’s head from its body.


Pelvic anatomy in pregnant woman and mechanics of obstetrical forceps as applied to the fetal head


1904The Decline in Maternal Mortality in Sweden: The Role of Community Midwifery ~ Ulf Högberg, MD, PhD August 2004, Vol 94, No. 8 | American Journal of Public Health 1312-132

The 19th century decline in maternal mortality [in Sweden]was helped along by the national health strategy of giving midwives and doctors complementary roles in maternity care, as well as equal involvement in setting public health policy.

From 1900 through 1904, Sweden had an annual maternal mortality of 230 per 100,000 live births… For the year 1900, the United States reported 520 to 850 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.3  

The maternal mortality rate in Sweden in the early 20th century was only one third that in the United States. This rate was recognized by American visitors** as an achievement of Swedish maternity care, in which highly competent midwives attended home deliveries.

[** Several American obstetricians visited Sweden in the early 1900s to find out why their MMR was so much lower than the US] 

1906 ~ Dr. Gerwin expresses his opinion about midwives:

…. the typical, old, gin-fingering, guzzling midwife, … her mouth full of snuff, her fingers full of dirt and her brain full of arrogance and superstition

1907 ~ other published comments by obstetricians about midwives:

Dr. Mabbott:  …  “un-American”

Drs. Emmons and Huntington: “the overconfidence of half-knowledge, …unprincipled and callous for the welfare of her patients”

Day 4 ~ 1911, a “very good year” for obstetrician, but not so good for the rest of us..


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