Revista Estudos Feministas
Print version ISSN 0104-026X
THEBAUD, Françoise. Childbirth medicalization and its consequences: the example of France between the two world wars. Rev. Estud. Fem. [online]. 2002, vol.10, n.2, pp. 415-426. ISSN 0104-026X. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0104-026X2002000200011.
In the history of childbirth medicalization, the years between the two world wars (1919-1939) appear in France as a transitional period. In a context of low birth rate , particularly in great towns, an increasing number of pregnant women begin to move to maternity hospitals, which offer an increasingly better care. At the same time a network of pre and postbirth care is developed to supervise pregnancy and nursing. The purpose is to save mothers and especially children. While midwives feared the decline of their profession, the objective was only partially reached, for the medicalization of childbirth and of the maternal function met with limits and a lot of resistance: the weight of social and cultural habits, the insufficient social protection of motherhood, the difficult living conditions of certain classes, the lack of a network of medical appointments for pregnant women and for the new-born, a very unequal distribution of such services throughout France, the liberal beliefs of the medical professions and the fear of State intervention...
Keywords : childbirth; hospital maternity; midwife; pre and postbirth care; infantile and maternal mortality.