Original Research

Important aspects of midwifery

E. Barnett
Curationis | Vol 3, No 2 | a255 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/curationis.v3i2.255 | © 1980 E. Barnett | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 September 1980 | Published: 26 September 1980

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E. Barnett, Addington Hospital, South Africa

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The art of midwifery must be one of the oldest of acquired skills. In prehistoric times, the more experienced women assisted and comforted their younger relatives during parturition. There are scattered references to midwives in ancient literature, including the Bible. In Genesis 35:17 we learn that Rachel’s death was the result of “ hard labour” . One should congratulate the midwife who delivered Sarah of a son at the age of 90 years - Genesis 17:17. Midwifery stagnated during the Middle Ages due, partly to the ignorance of the midwives as well as to a lack of knowledge of human anatomy coupled with the accepted teaching of the ancients, which was regarded as the ultimate authority. Great advances in the art and science of midwifery have occurred since the Middle Ages, amounting to a revolution in thought and practice. Less than 100 years ago, in 1898, in W.S. Playfair’s “Science and Practice of Midwifery” no mention was made of any form of antenatal examination or even of the testing of urine for albumin. Times have indeed changed - today the whole concept of maternal and child care would be quite unrecognisable to a Victorian midwife. We have also accepted the male midwife into our midst.


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