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versión On-line ISSN 2340-7948versión impresa ISSN 0211-9536


QUIROZ, Lissell. From the traditional midwife to the female obstetrician: Birth and pinnacle of the profession of licensed midwifery in 19th century Peru. Dynamis [online]. 2012, vol.32, n.2, pp.415-437. ISSN 2340-7948.

In Peru and the rest of the Hispanic world, the 19th century was a time of profound change in the practice of medicine and especially in obstetrics. Among the leading agents in this development were the midwives, whose profession was born and established at that time. Previously, traditional midwives were responsible for accompanying women during labour in an almost entirely female universe. In the late 18th century, enlightened Peruvians became interested in child-birth and the perinatal period. They mainly criticized the practice of traditional mid-wives and presented to public opinion the need for theoretical training under the supervision of medical staff. After Independence, the Enlightenment discourse was resumed by the public authorities of the nascent state. This project became a reality thanks to the arrival in Peru of the French midwife, Benita Paulina Fessel, an enterprising woman who wished to establish the Parisian (Port-Royal) birth model. The confluence of these factors led to the birth in 1826 of the first Maternity Hospital in the Hispanic world with a specific function, which was associated with a Childbirth school led by Madame Fessel, who was herself an alumna of the Maternity Hospital in Paris. Lima Maternity Hospital trained several generations of midwives, who received an excellent theoretical and practical training and established themselves as competent professionals. During the second half of the 19th century, obstetricians, as they were named from that time in Peru, accompanied more and more women in the throes of childbirth and proved able to endure the pressure of doctors and take possession of this essential moment in the life of women.

Palabras clave : Peru; midwives; obstetrics; medical profession; 19th century.

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