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|Title: ||Weaving the Threads: A Tapestry of Sydney’s Colonial Midwives, 1788 – 1901|
|Authors: ||Potter, Lesley Evelyn|
|Issue Date: ||17-Aug-2015|
|Publisher: ||University of Sydney|
Sydney Nursing School
|Abstract: ||This thesis is an investigation of the colonial midwives of Sydney in New South Wales between 1788 and 1901. This study seeks to add to the historical record by exploring the place and role of midwives in the health and maternity care of the colony of New South Wales throughout the nineteenth century. The colonial midwife portrayed from a number of perspectives sanctions a different view of the midwife and her practice than has been commonly perceived.
This investigation endeavours to recover and assemble from the fragmentary and at times inadequate primary and secondary sources the hitherto unknown identity, life and work practices of the colonial midwives of Sydney. The focus is the midwife and the purpose of this investigation is to demonstrate that the midwife is a pivotal figure around maternity care and childbirth practices. Other voices from colonial society, specifically from the fields of law and medicine are introduced to the discussion to acknowledge the milieu in which the colonial midwife worked and to uncover colonial attitudes to midwives in this period.
A number of issues are discussed in this study. One concern is the interconnectedness of midwifery with women’s domestic work and the implications this had for a midwife’s contribution both to the economy and the health care of women and the newborn. I suggest that like the small scale business women of colonial Sydney, midwives too had a capacity for entrepreneurial activities. They contributed to the colonial economy by establishing their own midwifery enterprises and as such were an integral part of the community in which they resided.
Another issue is a midwife’s relationship to the law. By analysing a significant number of coroner’s inquests, relating to maternal and infant mortality, and investigating the shadowy world of abortion, infanticide and baby farming, new insights into midwifery practices and the role played by midwives are revealed.
A third issue involves the evolution of midwifery training alongside the development of lying-in hospitals in the late nineteenth century in New South Wales. The opinion held by many colonial citizens and concurred with by many historians of the colony, that because many midwives in the nineteenth century colony were untrained they were therefore unskilled, ignorant and dangerous is contested in this thesis. The discussion of this issue demonstrates how through the movement to educate and legislate the registration of midwives the shift to modernity in maternity health care in New South Wales was in part realised.
As a consequence I submit that colonial midwives had a significant role to play in the maternity health care of the colony and that their contribution should be recognised in historiography. This study also demonstrates that colonial midwifery has both a familiarity and a dissimilarity with modern twenty-first century practice of midwifery.|
|Access Level: ||Access is restricted to staff and students of the University of Sydney . UniKey credentials are required. Non university access may be obtained by visiting the University of Sydney Library.|
|Rights and Permissions: ||The author retains copyright of this thesis. It may only be used for the purposes of research and study. It must not be used for any other purposes and may not be transmitted or shared with others without prior permission.|
|Type of Work: ||PhD Doctorate|
|Type of Publication: ||Doctor of Philosophy Ph.D.|
|Appears in Collections:||Sydney Digital Theses (University of Sydney Access only)|
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|POTTER Lesley - Final Thesis.pdf||Thesis||6.47 MB||Adobe PDF|
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