life story of the author's grandmother and her experience bearing children. The writer of this paper presents a look at the facilities and the methods that were used with the grandmother and compares and contrasts them to the methods described in the Midwife's Tale.
NOT SO LONG AGO
The woman who was chosen for this interview is named Mildred Potase. She is the biological grandmother to the author of the paper, and she agreed to be interviewed for this project. Medical science has advanced so quickly in the last century, that the way women used to give birth, compared to the way they do so in more recent years is vastly different. However, the prenatal care was not always different, as many women preferred the care of a midwife over the care of a licensed medical doctor. This is a fad that seem to come in and out of popularity, and when the grandmother of the writer was expecting her child it was all the rage to use shiny hospitals in many areas of the nation.
As stated previously, the name of the writer's grandmother is Mildred Potase. She was named after her great aunt, who had braved the western frontier and been held up as a role model for the women in the family ever since. Mildred was named after her, as were three of her cousins born within a decade of each other. The family took care however, to only name those who lived a great distance from each other and to move the middle names around with the first name so they would not all be called Mildred. But the grandmother of the writer did in fact go by Mildred her entire life and being told the family story of her name sake all of her life grew her to be a strong and capable woman during a time when women were considered the weaker sex.
Mildred was not a conformist by any means. Her first pregnancy was at the age of 19. Now this was not unusual, and in the Midwife's Tale we would find that it was probably a common age for pregnancies. However, the uncommon thing at this time was that Mildred was pregnant before she was married. This was a much more frowned upon situation in Mildred's time than the Midwife's time. According to the Midwife's Tale, which is based on actual diary pages of an 18th century midwife, premarital sex as well as illegitimate children were not the disgrace they became later in history.
By the time Mildred was born and grown, society had begun to place self-imposed restrictions on proper love and relationship etiquette. One of these restrictions was that females were expected to remain chaste until their wedding night, and they were never to allow themselves to get into the family way while single.
Mildred defied many rules in her life and premarital sex was one of the taboos she ignored, however, she did make sure that she married the baby's dad before the baby was born.
Mildred married in her sixth month of pregnancy. It was an embarrassing situation for her and she felt shame and guilt for it many years following the birth of that first child. While the Midwife's Tale talks of acceptance, Mildred was pregnant in 1949 which by societal standards, had become much more rigid and narrow.
When the baby was full term she was in a breach position. Today a breach baby is a routine event, however, in 1949 it still posed complications often times. We had still come a long way medically from the days of the Midwife's Tale, but breach births could still be dangerous. At that time, a breach baby was a life-threatening problem. By the time Mildred delivered, medical experts had developed several ways to handle breach births, and while they were not yet routine, they were no longer the crisis that they had been at one time.
It is interesting to note, howeve, r that a breach birth outside of a hospital setting even in 1949 was cause for concern. When Mildred's baby was born, she was not only breach, but she had managed somehow to get her big toe caught in her mouth and she kept it there while being birthed. Workers in the delivery room could be heard laughing several…