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LovieThe Story of a Southern Midwife and an Unlikely Friendship$
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Lisa Yarger

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469630052

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469630052.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 21 September 2021

That Handmaiden Business

That Handmaiden Business

(p.40) 4 That Handmaiden Business

Lisa Yarger

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter discusses Lovie Shelton’s nursing training at Norfolk General Hospital (through the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps) and early nursing experiences in the 1940s, when delivery room nurses were little more than handmaidens to the doctors (often instructed, for example, to hold a laboring woman’s legs together to keep her from delivering before the doctor’s arrival). The chapter not only takes readers on an interesting historical side trip, but gives them a benchmark for gauging the significance of Lovie’s later career as a nurse-midwife attending home births by herself. The chapter also describes the highly routinized, medicalized hospital births at the time Lovie was in training and how birth in the U.S. arrived at this point. After graduation, Lovie worked for a country doctor and sometimes found herself attending deliveries of babies all on her own in homes. Wanting more training, she enrolled in the public health nursing program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she learned about nurse-midwives from visiting lecturer Laura Blackburn, a public health nurse-midwife employed by the state board of health in South Carolina. Lovie “caught on fire” to become a nurse-midwife herself.

Keywords:   Norfolk General Hospital, Cadet Nurse Corps, handmaidens, nurses as, hospital birth, country doctor, public health nursing, UNC Chapel Hill, Laura Blackburn, nurse-midwives

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