From obstetrics to obstetric medicine and back again

By Melody HansenMisch PautschLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

Probably never before has birth in Luxembourg been discussed so intensively as in recent years and months. A birth centre in the Grand Duchy is no longer just the wishful thinking of women and midwives. Its realisation has come within reach in recent months. About the history of births in Luxembourg.

"I hope that all the fuss we have been making since the 80s will somehow bear fruit after all." Martine Welter is sitting on the couch in her living room. Quince jam is bubbling in the kitchen. She retired last year. For 36 years she worked as a midwife in Luxembourg, for many years she was the only midwife in the country to give birth at home, and she also worked tirelessly for her profession as president of the Association Luxembourgeoise des Sages-Femmes (ALSF). Talking to her shows how closely the midwives' struggle is linked to that of women in general.

Spread out on her coffee table are several different books about the profession of midwifery and its history in Luxembourg. The first maternity clinic with an affiliated midwifery school was opened in 1877 in the former barracks in the Pfaffenthal. However, it took about 50 years before births in hospitals became the norm. "In the beginning, only the 'fallen girls', as they were called at the time, went to the Maternité. Women who had no money to pay for a midwife at home. If they gave birth at the maternity clinic, they had to agree to have a student take care of them. They were the guinea pigs, so to speak", says Martine Welter. She holds up an open page of one of the books. It shows about twenty midwives. They are standing around a pregnant woman lying on a couch. There is only one man in the photograph: the doctor.

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