an Oral History from Handywoman to Professional Midwife
by Nicky Leap and Billie Hunter
When I borrowed this book from the library to read (several years ago) I thought it was going to be a narrative about a midwife's experiences, something like Babycatcher by Peggy Vincent, or a nonfiction version of Bohjalian's Midwives. It's not. The Midwife's Tale is a look at the practice of midwifery in England before the National Health Service was established in the early 1940's. It is drawn mostly from oral histories and interviews with women who were midwives, or women who recall being tended by midwives during that time. It's not only a book about how midwives practiced and how women experienced childbirth in an earlier era, but how women (and society in general) viewed related issues like contraception, abortion, intercourse, motherhood and work outside the home. Also how midwifery contrasted to early doctors' more scientific methods and hospitalization of women, and how midwives were edged out of their profession by men. Overall a very interesting read, if a bit dry in parts.
Rating: 3/5 ....... 215 pages, 1993
More opinions at:
Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine
anyone written a blog review about this book? let me know and I'll post a link here