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Extra info for A history of midwifery in the United States : the midwife said fear not
Joseph Lister published a paper that ﬁrst made the links among disease, infection, and microorganisms that could now be seen with a microscope, and Dr. Louis Pasteur identiﬁed the bacterium responsible for puerperal fever. With the development of the science of bacteriology, physicians began to accept their role in either transmitting disease or in preventing transmission of disease. Alternately, the less-interventionistic actions of midwives, who believed in letting nature take its course, meant less exposure of women to infections from vaginal examinations and internal fetal manipulations.
Without the diary we would know nothing of her life after the last of her children was born, nothing of the 816 deliveries she performed between 1785 and 1812. ”9 Colonial and early American midwives were community women who had given birth to their own children (Martha Ballard did not start her diary until she was 50 years old) and were generally held in as high esteem and respect as a woman could have been in those days. A midwife was well known in the community and because she was frequently in the homes that made up the community, she also tended the sick, had an arsenal of herbal remedies, and helped ready the dead for burial.
45 In fact, although it is documented that there were indeed unscrupulous physicians who charged fees and gave diplomas in midwifery for what was an educational farce,46 there were also a number of what seem to have been legitimate schools for midwives initiated in locales where there were a large number of immigrant midwives. The whole underlying principle of the practice of the colonial midwife had been to be the helpful neighbor within her community. ” This underlying principle of the helpful neighbor within her community continued with the immigrant midwives.