chapter  10
20 Pages

Whither Childbearing: Gender, Status, and the Professionalization of Medicine in Early Modern France 1

ByBridgette Sheridan

In the midst of competition for status in the medical community, care for women especially during pregnancy and childbirth became territory over which some midwives, surgeons, and physicians battled. Before the seventeenth century, the rituals and events surrounding pregnancy and childbirth were a female domain. Gendered dynamics played a pivotal role in ensuring that Louise Bourgeois would be marginalized in the medical community. The struggle between surgeons and physicians for status in the medical hierarchy played an important role in men's entrance into the birthing room. Barber-surgeons had been considered artisans rather than medical professionals, since they learned their skills through apprenticeship instead of by university education. Jacques Guillemeau played an integral role in advancing surgeons' status in the medical community of early modern France. Legal authorities in France became more interested in childbirth and care for women in the sixteenth century.