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Obstetric development and midwifery reform: from the West to China, 19th – 20th century


During the first half of the 20th century, China, like many other non-Western societies, initiated a reform of midwifery practice by strengthening the control over trained and untrained birth attendants, and implementing standardized midwifery care across the country. This reform was preceded by the introduction of Western Obstetrics and midwifery in the 19th century, and helped shape the new childbirth practices in (urban) Chinese communities in the first half of the 20 th century.

This lecture will particularly present the development of Obstetrics and midwifery in Europe in the 19th century, and how the new knowledge and technologies were used and took effect (in terms of the survival chance of mothers and newborns) in China, highlighting the professional division between physicians, trained midwives and untrained midwives.


Minghui Li Minghui Li is a PhD student of the History Department. Her research looks at the transformation of midwifery practices in China in the first half of the 20th century, and how the reform influenced the death rates of mothers and new-born infants.
Last modified:09 August 2019 3.55 p.m.