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Celebrating 500 Years of Pregnancy and Birth

This project is a partnership between Valerie Worth and the Library services of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (London). The Royal College is home to the heritage collections of both the Royal College and of the Royal College of Midwives, and its Library is used by the College’s Fellows and Members, midwives and student midwives, and other health professionals and academics.  Under its Archivist and Records Manager, the College is committed to making both current and heritage materials accessible to all stakeholders. The partnership will allow a presentation of medical teaching and of patient perception of pregnancy and birth through a historical prism, drawing on the particularly rich collection of early modern printed books held in the Royal College’s library.

Hardly a week goes by without a story or advice about pregnancy or birth making headline news, from royal births to the latest guidance on what to eat in pregnancy. The partnership will set this public fascination in a broad historical context, looking at debates and controversies over the last five centuries. Topics presented in the exhibition and to be discussed at the study days in London and Oxford include midwifery training, favoured delivery positions, premature births, breastfeeding, and who used to be present at a birth.