Tag: Midwifery

Constructing the Modern American Midwife: White Supremacy and White Feminism Collide

The year 2020 marks one of those global tipping points – time divided into pre-COVID and the promise of after COVID, as well as open rallying cries to topple white patriarchal supremacy. Serendipitously, it also marks the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, per the World Health Organization. We were excited: as two practicing,… Read more →

All My Babies and Black Midwifery: An Interview with Wangui Muigai

Wangui Muigai is the winner of the inaugural Nursing Clio Best Journal Article Prize for “‘Something Wasn’t Clean’: Black Midwifery, Birth, and Postwar Medical Education in All My Babies,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine, vol. 93, no. 1 (2019), 82–113. An assistant professor of history and African and African American studies at Brandeis University,… Read more →

Carrying Community: The Black Midwife’s Bag in the American South

The classic 1953 documentary film All My Babies features the life and work of Mary Coley, a legendary African-American “granny” midwife.1 The film follows Coley as she travels around her rural Georgia community carrying her ever-present black satchel. In one memorable scene, the exhausted midwife returns home after a long night of “catching babies.”2 As… Read more →

A Tale of Two Midwives across Four Centuries

What happens when the person who delivers most of the babies in her community is arrested? This is a tale of two midwives, separated by nearly four centuries of history, and yet remarkably alike. Six months ago, certified professional midwife Elizabeth Catlin was arrested on the grounds that she was practicing midwifery without a license…. Read more →

The Obstetrician Who Cried “White Privilege”

In December of 2016, I wrote an essay for Nursing Clio called Nurse-Midwives are With Women, Walking a Middle Path to a Safe and Rewarding Birth. In the piece, I advocated that all women be given the option of delivering with hospital-based nurse-midwives, whose evidence-based practice results in safe births and, in some settings, significantly… Read more →

Blazing Trails for Midwifery

The American Association for the History of Nursing is so pleased to partner with Nursing Clio for this special series, which showcases some of the innovative and diverse work being done by historians of nursing across the world. The AAHN holds its annual meeting this week in Rochester, New York, and these essays are windows… Read more →

Nurse-Midwives are With Women, Walking a Middle Path to a Safe and Rewarding Birth

In childbirth politics as in all politics, extreme viewpoints make the news, and sensible centrists are ignored. A couple of years ago, Ricki Lake provoked a firestorm of debate about home birth with her film, The Business of Being Born, which showcased gloriously crunchy New York City home births, and made the case for the… Read more →

“For Poor or Rich”: Handywomen and Traditional Birth in Ireland

On Achill Island, Ireland, an untrained woman was prosecuted for acting as a midwife in 1932. In her defense, she argued that she intervened only in an emergency “to save the mother and child.” Here, local authorities decided “not to press the case hard and to ask for a light penalty.”1 Controversies like this were… Read more →