January 19, 2012, by C Fawcett

“Mothers and Midwives” goes live!

Midwife with bicycle

If you’re enjoying the current BBC drama series “Call the Midwife” you can now get a Nottingham perspective on the subject by visiting a new exhibition in the Weston Gallery, Lakeside Arts Centre.

Mothers and Midwives: A History of Maternity in the East Midlands opened on Friday 13 January.  Its main object is to explore the story of maternity care in the East Midlands over the last century, looking both at how the experience of pregnancy and childbirth has changed for local mothers and how professional midwives have pursued their careers.  The iconic image of the district midwife, complete with bicycle, is among the photographs on display, while an example of the equally familiar midwife’s bag, complete with typical contents, provides one of the case displays. 

Dr Tania McIntosh (right) and Dr Denise Amos (left), exhibition curators

The exhibition was curated by Dr Tania McIntosh, Lecturer in the Department of Nursing, Midwifery and Physiotherapy, and inspired by her recent historical research into the history of local midwifery. The involvement of Dr Denise Amos extended the interest to include the fate of the new born, with  information on local infant mortality rates at the end of the nineteenth century.  The historical dimension was taken further back to the early modern period by supporting content from the historic collections in Manuscripts and Special Collections.

Mothers and babies outside Edwards Lane clinic

A wide range of material reveals connections and contrasts between these different perspectives.  Although the experience of childbirth is a universal one, the juxtaposition of modern records and historic accounts shows stark differences in expectations, practices and outcomes.  Accounts of individual midwives, such as Hannah Jeffcott, and records of training and work in hospitals or in the districts, show the steady professionalization of the career midwife.

The exhibition will be open until Sunday 15 April and a series of lunchtime talks are open to the public. If you want to know more about the exhibition or the historic collections on this theme which are held by the University, contact staff in Manuscripts and Special Collections at mss-library@nottingham.ac.uk.

Posted in ExhibitionsUncategorized