Women’s History Month – Midwifery

2020-2021 Midwifery group.

“The group has eight vibrant, strong learners that are enthusiastic and very keen learners. There is a mixture of personalities and a uniqueness to all individuals. The challenge in this pandemic to be on a blended learning course did not stop the midwifery group to purse their learning goal and are very active online with the course and excellent collaboration within the group.

The midwifery group have taken responsibility of their learning and organise group activity meeting outside the class timetable and actively take part. The group took on a challenge of taking part in a podcast which was an excellent display of their knowledge and understanding of the midwifery units taught.

The work completed by all midwifery learners, is to a high standard and all learners actively take the opportunity with the access support group extra sessions as a platform to perfect their work. The group is open to constructive feedback and very focused to self-development and improvement.

I have ensured that students have had an outstanding experience of the blended learning and used innovation to help students learning experience in these difficult times. It is a pleasure and a joyful experience to teach the midwifery students. I am very proud of the midwifery students.” Pritee Rajput

As part of their course the midwifery group has put together a focus on famous midwives:

Image Credit: https://thebirthhour.com/ina-may-gaskin/

Ina May Gaskin

Born March 8th, 1940
She was an American midwife and was described as ‘the mother of authentic midwifery’
In 1971 Ina May and her husband Stephen Gaskin founded one of the first out-of-hospital birthing centers in the United States, where she launched her career in Midwifery
She is known for the Gaskin Maneuver, this is a technique to reduce shoulder dystocia, which was introduced in the US in 1976 
June 2008 Gaskin led a workshop called ‘A Guide to Natural Childbirth’ at New York Open Centre
She was awarded the title ‘Honorary Doctor’ in recognition of her work demonstrating the effectiveness of safety of midwifery by the Thames Valleys University, London in November 2004
Published many books such as: Gaskin, Ina May (1987). Babies, breastfeeding, and bonding. South Hadley, Mass.: Bergin & Garvey Publishers, Gaskin, Ina May (2014). Spiritual midwifery. Strawberry Hills, NSW: ReadHowYouWant, Gaskin, Ina May (2012). Ina May’s guide to childbirth. New York: Bantam Books, Gaskin, Ina May (2009). Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding. UK: Pinter & Martin and Gaskin, Ina May (2015). Birth matters: a midwife’s manifesta. New York: Seven Stories Press.

Image Credit: https://rcmheritage.wordpress.com/2019/03/08/zepherina-smith-international-womens-day-2019/

Zepherina Smith

1836-1894
Trained as a nurse and in 1868 became superintendant of nurses at St Georges Hospital, London
1870 she was a nurse in the Franco-Prussian war •Upon return took an interest in midwifery and found poor women were unable to afford the doctors and relied on local midwives, many who were unskilled and unhygienic.
1873 qualified as midwife and worked with the poor in London slums
1876 married and gave up midwifery but then dedicated herself to training midwives 
Advanced education and training of midwives in the 19th  ‘dedicated herself to improving midwifery standards, notably as president of the Midwives’ Institute, later known as the Royal College of Midwives’
(Tassel, 2019).

Image Credit: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Mary-Breckinridge

Mary Breckenridge

Born in Tenessee in 1881, Mary Breckenridge graduated from nursing school in 1910.
After the loss of her two children, she dedicated her life to improving conditions for children
Worked as a nurse during World War One. She was posted to the American Red Cross where she initiated a programme providing food and medical assistance to children, nursing mothers and pregnant women (Britannica, 2021)
She gained her midwife certificate at the British Hospital for Mothers and Babies in London.  She returned to America and founded the Frontier Nursing Services in 1925 – Her goal was to provide obstetric services and health care to expectant mothers living in rural Appalachian Kentucky mountains. They travelled by horseback to rural mountains to provide immediate healthcare to pregnant locals (Nurse Buff, 2016)

Image Credit: https://www.rtbf.be/culture/article/detail_rosalie-cadron-jette-au-secours-des-meres-celibataires?id=10640591

Marie-Rosalie Cadron-Jetté

Born in 1794 in Canada.   
After having been widowed for years and freed of her family responsibilities, her life took a new direction. She became the foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of Misericorde and dedicated her life to the charitable care of unwed and struggling mothers between 1840 and 1864.  
She obtained formal midwifery qualifications in 1849, accredited by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Lower Canada. 
As Montreal became rapidly industrialized and its population also increased very quickly, the need for all sorts of social services multiplied. She was asked to establish a community to care for single mothers exclusively, to provide for their needs, including a refuge. This was a progressiveness rare for that period as during that era, unwed mothers were held in contempt, including those who took care of them.  
For 20 years, she trained novices who wanted to dedicate their lives to the works of the Misericordia Sisters.
By the time she passed away, the community had given asylum to 2,300 unwed mothers.  

(Désilets, 2003 and Centre Rosalie Cadron-Jetté, 2014)

Nancy Falcó Mateo

Image Credit: https://www.countypress.co.uk/news/17479833.obituary-mary-cronk/

Mary Cronk

Born in 1932 in Glasgow
Studied nursing at the royal infirmary and in 1957 started training to be a midwife at Queen Charlotte’s Hospital in London.
She worked for the NHS before setting up her own practice
Published a lot of articles in midwifery matters ◦Facilitated over 1600 births during her time in the NHS
Experienced in all types of births (c-sections, breech, water births, twin births etc)
Once she retired, she continued to educate by hosting study days
She wrote many articles on midwifery covering topics such as physiological breech birth etc
Lily-Love Vanderpuije

Image Credit: https://ednahospitalfoundation.org/

Edna Adam Ismacil

Born 8 September 1937 
UN diplomatic French Legion of Honour recipient and former foreign minister of Somaliland 
Midwife and nurse
Was the first female foreign minister of Somaliland from 2003 to 2006 ◦She previously served as Somaliland’s minster of family and welfare and social development.
In the 1980 Edna begun building a hospital in Somaliland.
She is the director and founder of the Edna Adam Maternity Hospital in Hargeisa.
She was  president  of the Organization for Victims of Torture.
Married to Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal. Aisha

Image Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronnie_Lichtman

Ronnie Lichtman

Ronnie Sue Lichtman, (born February 10, 1950) is a midwife, educator, writer and advocate for women’s health.
Lichtman has assisted in over 300 births in her career.
Lichtman has educated hundreds of midwives since entering the field in the mid-1970s, some have gone on to deliver more than 1,500 babies each. 
She began her professional midwifery career at North Central Bronx Hospital working both in the clinic and the Labour and delivery unit, caring for low-income, immigrant, and under-served women. 
She eventually opened a private midwifery practice that focused on well-woman gynecologic care. 
She left North Central Bronx to become a midwifery faculty member at Columbia University School of Nursing where she later became Program Director. 
Lichtman wanted to be exposed to distance education in midwifery so she left Columbia to become Education Director of the midwifery education program at Stony Brook University. 
She was appointed Program Director at Stony Brook University before moving to her current position as Professor and Program Chair of the Midwifery Education Program at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in 2002.

Image Credit: https://www.netzwerk-geburtshaeuser.de/testimonial/justine-siegemund-die-siegemundin/

Justine Siegemund (Grace Ruxton)

A midwife in the 17th Century in Europe. She was motivated by her poor personal experience with midwives to learn more about obstetrics.
Did not have any of her own children: at the time, this should have been a barrier to her going into midwifery as a profession. 
Practiced for the first time in 1659 to assist with a delivery where the baby got stuck due to a misplaced arm, and practiced midwifery for free within the community to provide care to the impoverished population until 1670.
Slowly expanded her client base to the noble and merchant classes. 
This led to her being called upon by male obstetricians to remove a cervical tumor which threatened a Duchess.
Still subject to sexism: in 1680, her former supervisor, Martin Kerger, accused her of ‘unsafe birthing practices’ 
Frankfur on Oder Medical facility sided with Siegmund, however, and Kerger was found to lack Siegmund’s ‘practical experience-based professional knowledge of women’s reproductive and infant anatomies and childbirth’ In 1670 named the ‘City Midwife’ of Lignitz.
Rarely used pharmaceuticals or surgical instruments in delivery. Birthed around 6,200 infants (People Pill, 2020)
Appointed Court Midwife by Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg. Used this experience to write the ‘Court Midwife’ (1690) which was the first female-authored obstetric manual (Tatlock, 2005).