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eXamples from Midwife Records

Lene Dræby Kottal
eXamples from Midwife Records

This post is a part of my posts for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, which has now reached the letter X. In this post I give some examples from midwife records. Midwives had to keep records of all births they assisted from 1861 to 1976, but some midwives started keeping records before it was required. The records may not say much, but I think these details are fun to have.

Midwife Record from Espe in Denmark 1885

My great-grandfather Ludvig Hansen was born 7 March 1885. Part of the midwife's record is shown above, click the image to see the full page; my great-grandfather's birth is listed under entry 5.1 The headings translate to the following:

  • About the person giving birth
    • - Age
    • - Married
    • - Single
    • - How many prior births
  • About the nature and process of the birth
    • - Which part of the fetus came first?
      •        The scalp
      •        The face
      •        The seat
      •        The feet
      •        Shoulder or arm
      •        Other parts
    • - Did special irregularities occur during the birth, and if so, which?
    • - Duration of the birth
      •        Until the rupture
      •        From then until the child's birth
      •        The afterbirth
    • - Date and time of the birth
    • - Has artificial help been used during the birth or afterbirth? If so, which? The name of the summoned doctor shall be recorded.
  • About the child
    • - Boy
    • - Girl
    • - Fullborn
    • - Premature
    • - Alive (including unresponsive, but brought to life)
    • - Unresponsive, not brought to life
    • - Dead
    • - Alive, but died within 24 hours
  • About the woman giving birth
    • - Has she had fever?
    • - Has she been cured?
    • - Has she died?
  • Remarks. (Here it shall be recorded whether the birth had ended before the midwife's arrival.)

Nothing extraordinary happened during the birth of my great-grandfather Ludvig, but the record states that his mother had given birth six times before, so if I had not already found six older siblings that would be on my to-do-list. Ludvig was born "K 4½ fm," which means at 4.30 before noon (am). If it says "em," it means after noon (pm).

1897 Midwife Record from Espe, Denmark

Some midwives recorded the size of the children in the remarks column, as shown above in the record for the birth of Ludvig's youngest brother, who weighed 7½ pounds and measured 18 inches.2

Maren Pedersdattter and stillborn daughter: Death 1864 in Brahetrolleborg

If you encounter a stillborn child, the midwife record is likely to provide evidence for the reason behind its death. The same applies, if a mother died during childbirth. The parish register for Brahetrolleborg Parish shows that Christen Pedersen's wife, age 44, died 6 May 1864 and was buried along with their stillborn daughter a week later (see the snippet above). Below is a snippet from the midwife record, which gives some insight into the complications during this birth.3

Midwife Record: Maren Pedersdatter's stillborn daughter

The girl was delivered with "en Arm bag ved Efterbörden," meaning one arm behind the placenta. Doctor Krohn performed a vending (turn) of the baby. The delivery lasted 8 plus 12 timer (hours) and 1 "quartir" (kvarter, quarter of an hour). It must have been horrible, even though she was an experienced woman - she had apparently given birth sixteen times before!

At Sall Data's website, jordemoderprotokoller (midwife records) are cataloged under medicinske arkivalier (medical records). Other medical records include dødsattester (death certificates) and vaccinationsprotokoller (smallpox vaccination records). Digitization of medical records has been begun for most areas of Denmark.


Source references:

  1. Distriktsjordemoderen, Herringe, Faaborg Lægedistrikt, Svendborg Amt, Fødselsprotokol, 1885-1894, 1885, entry 5; digital images, Sall Data, "Herringe-Espe distrikt: 1885-1894" (http://ao.salldata.dk/vis1.php?bsid=308950&side=4 : accessed 27 April 2019).
  2. Distriktsjordemoderen, Herringe, Faaborg Lægedistrikt, Svendborg Amt, Fødselsprotokol, 1895-1904, 1897, entry 28; digital images, Sall Data, "Herringe-Espe distrikt: 1895-1904" (http://ao.salldata.dk/vis1.php?bsid=308951&side=16 : accessed 27 April 2019).
  3. Brahetrolleborg Sogn, Sallinge Herred, Svendborg Amt, Kirkebøger, Kontraministerailbog, 1858-1892, Døde Qvindekjøn, folio 107, 1864, entries 3-4 (4-5); digital images, Sall Data, "1858-1892 D (KM)" (http://ao.salldata.dk/vis1.php?bsid=178744&side=57 : accessed 27 April 2019). Distriktsjordemoderen, Krarup og Brahetrolleborg østre Distrikter, Faaborg Lægedistrikt, Svendborg Amt, Fødselsprotokol, 1862-1874, 1864, entry 21; digital images, Sall Data, "Brahetrolleborg østre distrikt Lydinge, Krarup: 1862-1874" (http://ao.salldata.dk/vis1.php?bsid=308943&side=15 : accessed 27 April 2019).
  4. The image at the top of the post: Free to use from Pexels.