The Midwife's Tale: An oral history from handywoman to professional midwife

02 September 2014
Volume 22 · Issue 9

The Midwife's Tale was a joy to read and provided an insight into the rich history of midwifery that I was unfamiliar with. This book would be a delightful addition to the collection of any midwife, student midwife or those applying to study midwifery as it explores the early roots of the midwifery profession—from ‘handywoman’ through the process of formal training and regulation, to the current midwifery context. It tells a rich history through stories of women and families, with direct quotes and passages from those they spoke to, which makes it feel as though you’re a part of a conversation, as opposed to reading a history book.

I enjoyed the similarities between the concerns and worries of midwives in 1940s England, and those of midwives practising today. Midwives then had the same fears for autonomy, for losing normal birth and concerns over the rise in sepsis as midwives today. This is the real strength of the book, placing the stories and changes to our profession in a way that enables them to be compared to today's context; it would be easy to simply describe the history but the authors do more than that, they allow the voices of the women who dedicated themselves to midwifery to shine through and speak their own history.

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