Midwives were the answer local women usually with children of their own learned midwifery as apprentices as did many 19th century physicians observing and helping with deliveries honed their skills and exposed them to the variety of problems theyd face when working on their own to be a midwife required help at home. Midwives had a clear and important role in the 19th century laurel thatcher ulrich explored this in her pulitzer prize winning book a midwifes tale the life of martha ballard based on ballards diary that was written from 1785 through 1812. Midwifery in britain pre twentieth century pre industrial midwifery it has been suggested in pre industrial society there were three main hierarchies that of men over women church over laity and landlord over peasant oakley 1976. Midwifery in the eighteenth century was transformed from a female centric activity with cultural and ritualistic practices to an environment which saw the customary hegemonic female midwife relinquish her control of the lying in chamber to the man midwife. Midwifery in britain in the twentieth century midwifery became legally recognised in britain in 1902 with the first midwives act despite this there continued to be a large proportion of women who were supported by midwives who had not been formally trained
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