Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Pioneer of modern midwifery, Marguerite Le Boursier du Coudray

Being a passionate midwifery advocate in the country I have been asked by an influential leader and academic of nursing and midwifery in Nepal saying that like Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) who pioneered modern nursing who was the pioneer in midwifery. When she asked such question almost 6-7 months I was speechless and started to question some national as well as international midwifery academics but they also couldn't answer my concern thus remain mystery to me about the pioneered of modern midwifery.
However, that question always remained on back of my head wondering and pondering about the pioneered of modern midwifery then finally I got the answer while digging out the history of obstetrics and the pioneer figure of obstetrics.
Learnt from Nina Rattner Gelbart’s wonderfully readable biography of an almost contemporary French midwife, Marguerite Le Boursier du Coudray (1715–94), who was trained by an established midwife and certified at the age of 25 after a demanding examination before a panel of royal surgeons and the four sworn midwives of Paris, became “the king’s midwife” at forty. Commissioned by the government, she ceaselessly travelled throughout the French provinces in order to teach young women as well as established surgeons the latest techniques of delivery.
Similarly, in USA Martha Ballard (1735–1802) was the pioneer midwife who, coming out of a tradition of “social childbirth,” delivered babies and treated a wide variety of ailments in the newly settled wilderness of Maine.
However, don't know exactly in Britain who was the pioneered of midwifery but came to learn that William Smellie, who led the way in the 18th century in establishing obstetrics as an academic discipline in Britain went to Paris for further obstetric training but, dissatisfied with the teaching there, he returned to London and began giving midwifery courses of his own. His advertisements stated that a two year course of lectures cost 20 guineas, and that “The Men and Women are taught at different hours”.
The first British school of midwifery had been founded in London in 1725 and the first Chair of midwifery in Edinburgh one year later. In 1872 the Obstetrical Society of London began issuing certificates of competence to midwives and in 1902 the Midwives Act made state registration compulsory and set up a Central Midwives Board to regulate the profession. The Midwives Institute, set up in 1881, became the College of Midwives in 1941 and the Royal College of Midwives in 1947.
Reading the history of midwifery and nursing in fact in comparison to nursing, midwifery has been formally established earlier as a modern midwifery, establishing the first midwifery school in France by Ambroise ParĂ© (1510–90) who founded a school for midwives in Paris. One of Pare’s pupil midwives went on to attend the French court and one of the babies she delivered—a girl named Henrietta Maria—became Queen of England at the age of 16 when she married King Charles I in 1625.

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