Från hemförlossning till barnbördshus. Läkare och barnmorskors syn på förlossningsvårdens hospitalisering vid sekelskiftet.
The hospitalization of childbirth and maternal care in Sweden is from an international perspective quite unique. It was implemented already in the beginning of the 20th century and fully mainstreamed by the 1960’s. This essay examines the professional discussions of midwives and doctors as depicted in their union’s membership papers, during the hospitalization period. The hospitalization of childbirths presented a shift in responsibility and power from the midwives to the doctors, which has lead previous research to analyse this development as a clear conflict of professional interest. I will argue however that the professional frictions came later, as the midwife profession grew stronger as a collective, and were not so much present in the actual making. This essay investigates why, and touches upon class and gender divergences as explanatory factors. My findings are in part that the overtaking was more elaborate from the doctor’s point of view than the midwives. Through undermining the midwives professional competence, denying them necessary resources and advocating their superiority in the midwives internal debates, the doctor’s managed to steer the development of hospitalization and establish the hierarchy that followed. Today’s lively and sometimes infectious debate on the organization of childbirth and maternal care highlights the necessity for a deeper historical understanding and background to the indeed different positions midwives and doctors take in this regard.
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