Word of the Month: Breast Pump

This time Word of the Month is a familiar one: Breast Pump Breast pumps are manual or electronically powered devices used by mothers to encourage lactation. They can be used to stimulate lactation for those with trouble breastfeeding or they can be used to extract milk to be placed in a bottle for a later…

Edith Mary Pye (1876-1965) Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur

This International Women’s Day we recognise the heroic efforts of Edith Pye, midwife, Quaker, humanitarian and International Relief Organizer. Edith Mary Pye was one of the earliest certified midwives, having qualified in 1906 at Clapham School of Midwifery, and she served as President of the Royal College of Midwives between 1928 and 1949. But it…

Word of the Month: Walcher’s Position

Walcher’s Position is a technique used in labour where the mother reclines with her back supported and her legs dangling. This technique was used to encourage the pelvis to open a fraction wider. The position can be held for a limited number of contractions and can ease the delivery of a baby that may be…

Word of the Month: de Ribes Bag

Welcome to the RCM Heritage Blog’s newest feature: Word of the Week. In it we take an entry from The Midwife’s Pronouncing Dictionary and Encyclopaedia, beginning with the 1929 edition, and provide some historical context using the museum, archive and library collections of the Royal College of Midwives.

Vita Donum Dei: a Hymn for the Royal College of Midwives

You don’t have dig deep to find a special gem in the archives of the Royal College of Midwives. In time for the Christmas season, we recently unearthed an audiocassette tape featuring a 35-yearold performance of a very special hymn entitled Vita Donum Dei. Vita Donum Dei had been the College’s motto since its foundation…

Lily Good: The Midwife’s Tale Oral History Collection

Our penultimate extract from The Midwife’s Tale Oral History Collection is taken from an interview with ‘handywoman’ Lily Good. In Britain around the time of the First World War ‘handywoman’ was the name for a woman who attended births, nursed the sick and laid out the dead in her local community. During this period childbirth…

Esther Silverton (part 2): The Midwife’s Tale Oral History Collection

This week’s glimpse at The Midwife’s Tale Oral History Collection is a second extract from the interview with retired midwife Esther Silverton recorded in August 1985. In this extract Esther describes the religous tradition of ‘churching’ new mothers, and the relationship between midwives and doctors. Esther Silverton was born in Portsmouth in 1916, and trained…

Edie Martinson: The Midwife’s Tale Oral History Collection

This week’s extract from The Midwife’s Tale Oral History Collection explores the difficulties experienced by poor and working class mothers in London during the 1930s and 1940s. The interview below features Edie Martinson who was born in London in 1902 and came from a working-class home. She married in 1920 and had five children between…

Alice Forrest: The Midwife’s Tale Oral History Collection

During research for their book, Billie Hunter and Nicky Leap interviewed mothers as well as midwives and nurses, in order to gain a well rounded picture of pregnancy, childbirth, and pre and post natal care before the NHS. This extract from The Midwife’s tale Oral History Collection features an interview with mother Alice Forrest who…