This study dealt with the following research subjects: the rise and fall of the midwife, regulation and control of medical technology, childbirth and women’s bodies based on the oral history of midwives who had played a main role in the process of pregnancy and childbirth among women as female professionals. In the face of the lack of literature on these subjects, the oral history of midwives has provided much needed information about the rise and fall of the midwife. For this, ‘the Oral history of Elder Midwives’ collected by the National Institute of Korean History is a very important resource to shed light of the real history of midwives in Korea. The midwives, helper on childbirth until 1990’s in Korea, held stable social economic status. However, this occupation declined after 2000’s very rapidly and their workplaces, maternity centers, also quickly disappeared. These oral history interviewees had opened these maternity centers and worked as midwives for twenty to fifty years. This history made it possible to draw out the following research questions: How did the medical institution and technology control the midwife and maternity nursing? And how have midwives dealt with the relationship with the mothers. Based on the narrator of this oral history, the decline of maternity centers resulted from the increase and enlargement of general hospitals, the process of the reproduction of midwives, and lack of institutional support. In particular, the control of medical technology and knowledge onto the midwives were conducted in two ways. First, it occurred by drawing a boundary between normal and abnormal and second, by controlling the use of medical instruments and medicine. That is, doctors tightly controlled the midwives’ use of only deficient tools with lower level than doctors.’ This control worked well; it reduced the capability for midwives to handle emergency situations, and this tendency brought about the loss of their competency in the medical market leading to the demise of many of maternity centers. Now, after the 2000’s most childbirth occurs in hospitals, up to the 99% level. Hospital childbirth has accelerated the medicalization of childbirth, while making the recognition of pregnancy and childbirth into a disease during this process; women have been pushed toward psychological burdens more and more. From ‘the Oral history of Elder Midwives’ collected by the National Institute of Korean History, is was found that the midwives dealt with the relationship with the mothers by ‘care giving like a graceful mother’, ‘sharing sorrow and joy with mother,’ ‘facing the mother from the bottom of one’s heart,’ and ‘taking all my responsibility’ and so on. In other words, this research has important implications for the current moment, with suggestions for an alternative childbirth culture, different from the system of large general hospitals, such as those relating to the remarkable elements of childbirth in maternity centers run by midwives.
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