“Call the Midwife” part 1

The fourth season of this popular PBS/BBC program  began in March, 2015.  The book, The Midwife by author/nurse  Jennifer Worth is the basis for the program.  Ms.Worth began her nursing career in 1950 and upon completion of her general nursing education, she pursued midwifery in the Convent of Anglican Nuns.  Her novel, which recounts her experiences with the Nuns, was written in response to an article in  The Midwives Journal.   The journal was lamenting the absence of midwives in literature and indeed, articles written about this fascinating area of nursing practice are limited.

Midwifery has been an influential service for mankind and society throughout history. The Bible, in the book of Exodus (1:15-22), recounts a dilemma  for midwives Shiphrah and Puah.  The King of Egypt instructed the Hebrew midwives… “When you serve as midwife to Hebrew women and see them on the birth stool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, if it is a daughter, she shall live.”

Anthony Sattin wrote of Florence Nightingale’s struggle  to gain paternal permission to follow  her  desire for ‘some great absorption’ which  is described in his novel  A Winter on the Nile (page 253).   His  novel is based on Miss Nightingale’s letters (private and public)  and her diary.

Miss Nightingale did enrolled in a Parisian school for midwives and then followed with a year  of study at  St. Bartholomew’s in London.  This provides further documentation of the importance of Midwifery to nursing and vice versus.

Jane Early