Louyse Bourgeois: 1563-1636
Louyse Bourgeois (1563-1636) was the most famous midwife of her time. As one of the first educated and medically trained midwives, she raised her profession to a new level of competence and promoted the spread of that competence through her widely read books recounting her observations and experiences. Observations diverses sur la sterilité(Observations on Sterility).was believed to be the first ever written account on midwifery. She certainly accustomed child-bearing women to expect a new and higher degree of competence and knowledge from their birth attendant.
Louyse, a woman of the middle class, acquired her medical knowledge from her husband, an army surgeon. As one of the first graduates of the new school for midwives at the Hotel Dieu hospital in Paris, where she may have studied under the pioneering surgeon Ambroise Paré. Bourgeois developed a very large and successful practice, especially among the French aristocracy. She attended the birth of the future King Louis XIII--reportedly saving the newborn from asphyxia--as well as the five other deliveries of Marie de Medici, wife of Henry IV.
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