Presentation Information

Bridget Lynch

The Loss of the Lying-In Time: How Medicine and Midwifery Abandoned Women Following Birth

  • Speaker: Bridget Lynch , RM, MA
  • Presentation Type:
  • Duration: 60 Mins
  • Credits: 1 CERP, 1 ACM CPD, 1 ACNM CEU, 0.1 Midwifery CEU

Until the early decades of the 20th century the time following childbirth was known as the ‘lying-in’ time in North America. This was a specified time and space wherein mothers were supported to be with their newborns without household or social responsibilities. The lying-in was the domain of women and was protected by midwives. While versions of lying-in have been practiced historically in societies around the world, today the observance of a protected time and space following childbirth has all but disappeared within the biomedical model of maternity care in Western societies. We now describe the time following birth as ‘the postpartum’, a medical term which has served to relegate this time to secondary status after the birth. Ironically and poignantly, ‘the postpartum’, indicates not only a loss of status of the time following birth, it is now synonymous with maternal depression. This presentation will review the common historical and cross-cultural aspects of care following childbirth prior to medicalization. It will raise questions for midwifery care and research and challenge midwives to examine if our care following birth is truly ‘woman-centred’.