Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Midwifery and Medicine…Oh My!
Here are some interesting tidbits I came across during my research:
1 - Though Queen Victoria received a dose of chloroform during childbirth in the 1850s, a practice which soon became popular amongst the upper classes in both England and America, those living in rural areas, and those not wealthy enough to afford it, still endured delivery without any painkillers.
2- The popularity of doctors in attendance at childbirth was rapidly increasing, though in smaller towns, midwives were still the usual choice.
3- Midwives generally received little formal education, and usually apprenticed under an experienced midwife, before setting up their own practice. When the American West was being settled and people lived a great distance away from town, women often relied on a female friend or relative who had no training other than having had a baby themselves!
4- There were, however, textbooks available that midwives and doctors could learn from. I used one of them, A Manual of Midwifery, published in the late 19th century, during the research process for my novella. Midwives like Annie could purchase it for the price of three dollars
5- Nature’s remedies were widely utilized, including herbs and teas meant to calm and provide sustenance to the mother, or in extreme cases, aid in preventing hemorrhage.
6- In the absence of a doctor, midwives often attended the sick, dealt with injuries, and prepared bodies for burial. The story of one such midwife, Martha Ballard, taken from her personal diary which she meticulously kept for twenty-seven years, is told in the book, A Midwife’s Tale.
To read about my midwife heroine, Annie Lawrence, and all of the drama surrounding the cases she attends—not to mention the handsome Hart doctor who sometimes assists her, be sure to pick up a copy of Seven Brides for Seven Texans!
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