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This crude fabric doll of a small child emerging out of a fabric womb was one of the first life-sized obstetrical manikin used by Angélique Marguerite Le Boursier du Coudray, a pioneering French midwife of the 18th century, to teach the practice of childbirth and midwifery to rural women.

Angélique du Coudray was born in 1715 into an eminent French medical family in Clermont-Ferrand. Not much is known about her early years, except from the fact that at the age of twenty-five, she completed her three-year apprenticeship and graduated from the College of Surgery in Paris. Around this time, a conflict between male practitioners, who called themselves surgeons, and midwives arose. The medical men began to assert their roles in all fields related to medicine and health, including childbirth which was traditionally taken care of by female midwives. The surgeons argued that their modern scientific techniques were better for mothers and infants than the folk medicine practiced by midwives.

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© Amusing Planet, 2017.


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