Delivered by MidwivesAfrican American Midwifery in the Twentieth-Century South

Delivered by MidwivesAfrican American Midwifery in the Twentieth-Century South

Jenny M. Luke

Print publication date: 2019

ISBN: 9781496818911

Publisher: University Press of Mississippi


Delivering babies was merely one aspect of the broad role of African American midwives in the twentieth-century South. Yet little has been written about the type of care they provided, or how midwifery and maternity care evolved under the increasing presence of local and federal health care structures. Using evidence from nursing, medical, and public health journals of the era; primary sources from state and county departments of health; and personal accounts from varied practitioners, Delivered by Midwives: African American Midwifery in the Twentieth-Century South provides a new perspective on the childbirth experience of African American women and their maternity care providers during the twentieth century. Moving beyond the usual racial dichotomy, the monograph exposes a more complex shift in childbirth culture to reveal the changing expectations and agency of African American women in their rejection of a two-tier maternity care system, and their demands to be part of an inclusive, desegregated society. This book identifies valuable aspects of a maternity care model that were discarded in the name of progress. Today concern about maternal mortality and persistent racial disparities have forced a reassessment of maternity care and elements of the long-abandoned care model are being reincorporated into modern practice, answering current health care dilemmas by heeding lessons from the past.