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Research Article

Pay the midwife! The cost of delivery in nineteenth-century rural West Flanders: the case of midwife Joanna Mestdagh

Author:

Christa Matthys

Ghent University, BE
About Christa

Christa Matthys (1981) has a PhD in history (Ghent University, 2012). In her dissertation, she investigated the role of female domestic servants in the fertility decline in Flanders, 1830-1930. Subsequently, she worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock (Germany) and as a postdoctoral fellow of the Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO) at Ghent University. She publishes on fertility change, domestic service, maternal health, and social diffusion of demographic ideas and behaviour.

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Abstract

This article focuses on the determinants of the economic cost of at-home childbirth in Flanders in the nineteenth century. Literature on the remuneration of medical professionals in the nineteenth century is sparse. Yet the few existing studies show that fixed rates per delivery did not exist during the nineteenth century. Before that time, pricing was influenced by factors such as the professional experience of the midwife, the distance between the residence of the midwife and the client, the social status of the client and the specific circumstances of the client’s condition. I analyse these factors with regard to home births that were assisted by a certified midwife, using the casebook of a rural Flemish midwife for the period 1831-1892.
How to Cite: Matthys, C., 2018. Pay the midwife! The cost of delivery in nineteenth-century rural West Flanders: the case of midwife Joanna Mestdagh. TSEG/ Low Countries Journal of Social and Economic History, 15(2-3), pp.5–32. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/tseg.985
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Published on 07 Dec 2018.
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