Advanced Search

Learn About The Holocaust

Special Collections

My Saved Research




Skip to main content

The childbirth odyssey : the last rural midwives in German-speaking Europe tell their stories : a translation and analysis of Marianne Grabrucker's Vom Abenteuer der Geburt: die letzen Landhebammen erzählen / by Tiffany Cumings.

Publication | Library Call Number: RG950 .C86 1998

This translation and analysis of fifteen midwives' oral histories includes an historical overview of European obstetrics. It provides data for advocates of homebirth and midwifery through a feminist social-history of rural midwifery in German-speaking Europe. Race and class issues are covered, as access to state-mandated maternity care depended on status and ethnicity. Midwives practiced coded and active resistance, fighting for their right to practice and for the rights of all child-bearing women, regardless of ethnicity or class. With respect to gender-based violence we learn that experiments were carried out by Nazi doctors on poor and single Eastern-European guest-workers during the Third Reich and that a number of husbands felt that they owned their wives' bodies and thus committed postnatal rape. Midwives and women worked together to offer a positive birth experience, providing woman-centered care. The midwives asserted that women were more comfortable before the onset of hospital-centered childbirth and personal attention was more effective than machine-based care. The myth that a doctor must be present to "deliver" a baby is challenged, but the midwives worked in symbiotic yet autonomous relationships with doctors. The text offers advocates of direct-entry midwifery/apprenticeship programs proof of the effectiveness of such training. Evidence regarding the safety and efficacy of midwife-assisted childbirth supports a change in the public health situation in the U.S. today to fit the midwife-doctor model of care advocated by the World Health Organization. In answer to the current controversy in healthcare regarding the appropriate length of postnatal hospital stays, we learn that women who give birth at home with a midwife receive up to two weeks of bed rest and daily postnatal care. The text offers information on women's folk remedies, customs and beliefs surrounding reproduction, birth and motherhood in German-speaking areas of Central Europe including lunar, tidal and seasonal influences; magic, witchcraft and emanation theory; healing herbs and precious stones; food prohibitions; sex determination; baptism; and use of the placenta and mother's milk. Concluding chapters cover German history as it affects birth control, abortion, and other population politics, including childbirth as experienced by Jewish women in concentration camps.

Other Title
Vom Abenteuer der Geburt.
Cummings, Tiffany.
Record last modified: 2018-05-22 11:47:00
This page: