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Birth Chairs, Midwives, and Medicine Paperback – November 8, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-1578061723 ISBN-10: 1578061725 Edition: 1st

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Birth Chairs, Midwives, and Medicine + Lying-In: A History of Childbirth in America, Expanded Edition
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 154 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Mississippi; 1 edition (November 8, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578061725
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578061723
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,925,507 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

A fascinating exploration of how birth chairs and birthing methods have evolved

About the Author

Amanda Carson Banks is Director of Development for the College of Engineering and Computer Science at California State University, Sacramento. Her articles have appeared in journals like Journal of American Folklore, Impromptu Journal, and Women & Language.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By R. Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on January 22, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
You hardly expect that a type of furniture would tell direct stories about medical history and the relationship between the sexes and between doctors and patients through the ages. However, in a surprising book _Birth Chairs, Midwives, and Medicine_ (University Press of Mississippi) by Amanda Carson Banks, we get quite a lesson in history and medical sociology. Some of the lessons don't reflect well on medical practitioners or on societal choice at all.
This well-illustrated book shows birth chairs and stools from many cultures and times. They were low, about ten or thirteen inches, and they had a more or less straight back. They had the simple job of supporting the woman in a squat, a position that allowed her to brace her feet against the ground and that allowed gravity to help. They had a very narrow seat, or a seat that had a horseshoe-shaped cut out, to allow the midwife access to the birth canal and delivery. They came in many styles, because they were generally made or ordered by the midwives that owned them.
Because of the rise of the profession of medicine, and because obstetrics was a source of professional endeavor and income, chairs changed. The seats became higher, allowing the doctor an easier view and more room for manipulation. The attitude seemed to be that midwives could put up with back strain, but doctors wouldn't; it didn't matter that the position of squatting was eliminated, so that the woman could do less to brace herself during contractions. The chairs also became more gadget-ridden, with adjustable backs, seats, arms, and stirrups. The doctor would probably adjust these to his convenience.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Anne Swartz on December 3, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Amanda Banks has written a major contribution to women's studies and material culture studies with this book. It addresses many of the historical matters about birth and birthing, focusing on how women were more empowered in previous generations during the birthing process through theutilization of birth chairs. This book is a must for anyone interested in the history of women's experience.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mark DeLuca on June 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book provides a very interesting and informative detail of the history of birth culture in America as discovered through the study of birth chairs. In incluedes intriguing pictorial documentations of birth chairs and how they evolved into the modern maternity beds in use today.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Teacher and Student on July 31, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What an interesting look into the history of childbirth through the lens of birth stools as artifacts! I gobbled this book up- mostly because I believe that women have been short-changed in their modern birth experiences. A look back reveals that birth was a normal event, even a social event that was accompanied by female attendants and friends. Today, birth is practically, a medical emergency that entails isolation in a sterile room accompanied by mostly male doctors. Women are stronger than modernity realizes...this book proves that!
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