Abstract

This article uses previously untapped archival sources to revise the dominant, negative view of London's eighteenth-century maternity hospitals, by reconstructing daily life at the British Lying-in Hospital. Though the hospital in fact helped to support women's work as midwives, its institutional practices altered the experience of childbirth both negatively and positively, which inspired rumors, criticism, and inflammatory published attacks. The article illuminates how two unrecognized events in 1751—the hospital's first epidemiological crisis, and the arrival of a new man-midwife who used instruments—may have become intertwined in the public imagination and helped to shape the terrible reputation of lying-in hospitals, despite their overall positive eighteenth-century record.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3176
Print ISSN
0007-5140
Pages
pp. 309-348
Launched on MUSE
2004-06-15
Open Access
No
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