The Doctor Wore Petticoats: Women Physicians of the Old West

By Chris Enss | Go to book overview

PATTY BARTLETT SESSIONS
MORMON PHYSICIAN

A doctor, if he had good sense would not wish to visit women in
childbirth. And if a woman had good sense she would not wish a
man to doctor them on such an occasion.

—Brigham Young, December 1851

The shrill cry of a woman in immense pain filled the otherwise quiet night sky over Utah's Salt Lake Valley. Patty Bartlett Sessions smiled down at the expectant mother and wiped the sweat off her forehead. Barely out of her teens, the woman was in the final stages of delivery and frightened of the experience her body was going through. Her pleading eyes found compassion in the fifty-two-yearold midwife caring for her.

Patty Bartlett Sessions had helped bring hundreds of babies into the world. The sparsely populated western frontier of the 1800s was in need of trained birth attendants who could help ensure mother and child survived the grueling process of labor and delivery. The gifted midwife calmly reassured the frantic mother-tobe with stories of the healthy infants she had laid in the arms of anxious mothers. The exhausted woman nodded and tried to smile through a contraction.

Patty did not solely rely on practical experience to help her with her job. She studied the pages of a medical book entiüed

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