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Martha and a Man-Midwife

  a time of transition in midwifery
see interactive version (requires Shockwave)

a 1793 satirical cartoon of a person split down the middle; on the left a man-midwife with his instruments, books, and potions on the wall, and on the right a female midwife with her hearth, pap boat (for feeding soft food to infants and invalids) and few containers on her wall for herbs and simples. The interactive cartoon reveals additional information about most of the items in the cartoon. Clearly this cartoonist is critical of the man-midwife and critical of his motives.


At the end of the eighteenth century, some male doctors began to build their medical practices by assisting normal births, previously the exclusive sphere of women. A controversy raged in Britain and America about these new man-midwives while Martha Ballard practiced midwifery in Maine. The 1793 Man-Mid-Wife cartoon that you see above depicts one view of the controversy in the form of a "Monster," a half-male, half-female midwife.

The Controversy Martha and a Man-Midwife Who was Dr. Ben Page? Summing Up
Learn what contemporary authors said about the man-midwife controversy, pro and con. Explore an encounter between Martha and a man-midwife on October 9 & 10, 1794. Learn about man-midwife Dr. Ben Page from his financial records, letters, a medical journal, newspaper ads, and Martha's diary. See the film and book interpretations. Find out how the roles of midwives and doctors have changed since 1794.

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Martha and a man-midwife | one rape. two stories.