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Justine Siegemund, a groundbreaking German midwife who defied patriarchal norms in the 17th century, was honored by the iconic Google Doodle on Tuesday, 28 March.
Her significant contributions to the field of medicine included being the first woman to publish a seminal medical text in German, following her book, The Court Midwife.
This brief overview comprehensively explains Justine Siegemund’s life and achievements.
|Real Name||Justine Siegemund|
|Date of birth||26 December 1636|
|Date of death||10 November 1705 (aged 68)|
|Place of death||Berlin, Kingdom of Prussia|
|Known for||The Court Midwife (1690)|
Who Was Justine Siegemund?
Siegmund was born in Rostock on 26 December 1636, presently recognized as Roztoka in Lower Silesia. When she was 20, she pursued obstetrics and became a midwife.
Her experience with midwives who mistakenly assumed she was pregnant when she had a prolapsed uterus motivated her to pursue this career.
After initially providing free assistance to needy women, Siegemund’s clientele expanded to include those from affluent families as her reputation spread.
What Happened In 1683?
In 1683, she was granted the position of the City Midwife of Lignitz and later appointed as the Court Midwife of Berlin in 1701.
While serving as a Court Midwife, Siegemund assisted in the delivery of the offspring of the royal household. It is believed that her publication, “The Court Midwife,” was produced after Mary II of Orange was so impressed by Siegemund’s expertise that she requested her to write a training handbook for other midwives.
Before the release of her book, German midwives mainly relied on oral tradition to pass on their knowledge, as there was no standardized approach to recording safe delivery procedures.
Consequently, “The Court Midwife” became the nation’s initial all-inclusive manual on childbirth.
The book “The Court Midwife” featured elaborate illustrations created by Renier de Graaf and Govard Bidloo, prominent medical artists of their era.
The Book Consisted Of Guidance On Potential Complications During Childbirth
The book guides potential complications during childbirth and their appropriate management, presented as a dialogue between Justina, a seasoned midwife, and her apprentice Christina.
The book comprised delivery methods crafted by Siegmund, featuring a dual-handed internal turning of the infant to address shoulder presentation and piercing the amniotic sac to handle a hemorrhagic placenta previa.
Siegemund exhibited remarkable empathy towards women in her work, The Court Midwife, distinctive from other contemporary texts authored by men.
Unlike other works, Siegemund’s book did not depict the pain of childbirth as a penalty for the original sin. Rather, it emphasized strategies to safeguard the mother’s life in cases where there was a threat to either the mother or the child.
During her professional journey, Siegemund faced discrimination from male doctors and midwives who accused her of practicing unsafe birthing methods due to her gender.
Siegemund Seldom Utilized Pharmaceuticals Or Surgical Tools
In contrast to her male colleagues, Siegemund seldom utilized pharmaceuticals or surgical tools when delivering babies.
During her funeral, the deacon in charge stated that Siegemund had assisted in delivering nearly 6,200 newborns before her passing.
Typically, Google Doodles are designed to commemorate significant events or people. Tuesday, 28 March, held particular importance for Siegemund.
This is because on this very day in 1690, her book, The Court Midwife, was recognized as an official medical textbook by the European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder).