Midwives

midwifery

midwifery (mĬd´wī´fərē), art of assisting at childbirth. The term midwife for centuries referred to a woman who was an overseer during the process of delivery. In ancient Greece and Rome, these women had some formal training. As the medical arts declined during medieval times, however, the skills a midwife possessed were gained solely from experience, and the lore was passed on through generations. With the upsurge of medical science about the 16th cent., the delivery of babies was accepted into the province of physicians, and as formal training and licensing of medical practitioners became more prevalent, these requirements extended also to women still engaged in midwifery. At this time professional schools of midwifery were established in Europe. Midwifery was only recognized as an important branch of medicine, however, when the practice of obstetrics was established. In the United States, due to rising medical costs and a burgeoning interest in natural childbirth and more personalized care, there has been a resurgence of interest in midwifery since the early 1970s.

Contemporary midwives attend births in hospitals and birthing centers as well as at home. Most midwives are registered nurses who have completed additional training in accredited institutions. Certified nurse midwives (CNMs) can practice in all 50 states. Many are trained to deal with other gynecological issues, such as birth control and menopausal problems. Lay-midwives usually train by apprenticeship and are regulated by local statutes that limit what services they may perform.

See J. Litoff, The American Midwife Debate (1986).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Midwives: Selected full-text books and articles

American Nurse-Midwifery: A Hyphenated Profession with a Conflicted Identity
Dawley, Katy.
Nursing History Review, Vol. 13, January 1, 2005
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Early Modern Midwifery: Splitting the Profession, Connecting the History
Thomas, Samuel S.
Journal of Social History, Vol. 43, No. 1, Fall 2009
Ethics in Midwifery
Shirley R. Jones; Andrew Symon.
Mosby, 2000
Birth by Design: Pregnancy, Maternity Care, and Midwifery in North America and Europe
Raymond Devries; Sirpa Wrede; Edwin Van Teijlingen; Cecilia Benoit.
Routledge, 2001
Health Promotion in Pregnancy: The Role of the Midwife
Beldon, Annemarie; Crozier, Suzanne.
The Journal of the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health, Vol. 125, No. 5, September 2005
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Safeguarding Children and Public Health: Midwives' Responsibilities
Lazenbatt, Anne.
Perspectives in Public Health, Vol. 130, No. 3, May 2010
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife's Memoir
Patricia Harman.
Beacon Press, 2008
Counselling Skills for Nurses, Midwives, and Health Visitors
Dawn Freshwater.
Open University Press, 2003
Social Perspectives on Pregnancy and Chilbirth for Midwives, Nurses and the Caring Professions
Julie Kent.
Open University Press, 2000
Western Medicine: An Illustrated History
Irvine Loudon.
Oxford University Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 13 "Childbirth"
Encyclopedia of Reproductive Technologies
Annette Burfoot.
Westview Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 26 "Contemporary Midwifery"
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