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>the Controversy< Martha and a Man-Midwife Who Was Dr. Ben Page? Summing Up
Smellie Treatise
Smellie Collection
Elizabeth Nihell, A Treatise on the Art of Midwifery

Elizabeth Nihell (1723-?) was married to a surgeon-apothecary. A mother herself, she studied in Paris and returned to London to practice midwifery. She argued that women, not men such as William Smellie, should practice midwifery. Quote from page 71


Questions to ask these pages:

1. According to Nihell, who earned more for attending childbirth?

2. Whom would Nihell recommend, a female midwife or a "common man-midwife"?

Questions to ask the book:

1. When would Nihell recommend calling a male physician?
Find out in
the archive

2. What did Nihell say motivated most man-midwives?
Find out in
the archive

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  Title Page Page 70 Page 71  



having him in the greatest need ; for besides their being so rare, they cannot be every where at one time. But admitting that you are fortunate enough to fall into the hands of a man-midwife of the greatest name in the profession, can you imagine that you will have a very cheap bargain of him? These gentlemen expect no small fees, and will not attend without them. You would besides be ashamed of not doing honor to the footing on which they give themselves out. Whereas the same gratitude is not always shewn to a midwife, however skilful in her profession, and whatever trouble she may give herself both before and after the lying-in of her patients ; notwithstanding too the assiduous attendance and visits she bestows upon them till they are out of danger ; notwithstanding these tender attentions she has for the children, which are so seldom regarded by the men-midwives ; there are who imagine they cannot give a midwife of this sort too little, and that for no other reason on earth, but because she is not a man.


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