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Monday 21 October: 6:00pm - 7:30pm

Pembroke College, Old Library, Trumpington Street, CB2 1RF

How we should give birth, who should be present and what role they should play, are all highly politicised questions, as the media obsession with the Duchess of Sussex's birth plan exemplifies. Pregnant people are encouraged to make choices about who is present at their birth -- obstetricians, midwives, doulas and/or birth partners -- and to define their expected role. Yet fulfilling these standards of midwifery practice is made increasingly difficult in a chronically underfunded NHS.

What makes a good midwife has troubled medical authorities for centuries. For the Greek physician Soranus of Ephesus (1-2 AD) a midwife's body -- robust with slim, long hands -- was as important as her character -- being literate, respectable and sympathetic. In the seventeenth century authorities worried that the new 'man-midwives' would end more lives 'than the Rope and Gallows' through their interventionist approach. The understanding of appropriate medical care and pain relief has shifted throughout time, as has medicine and our understandings of procreation.

Bringing together a panel of experts, this debate will consider the ways in which individuals have defined medical intervention and the role of birth workers in the past and today.

Following a series of successful debates at the Festival of Ideas, this event is organised by Leah Astbury, Lauren Kassell, Carolin Schmitz and Annie Thwaite, and is funded by the Wellcome Trust.

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Age: 11+, Talk, Arrive on time, Free