Monday, May 20, 2024

Justine Siegemund: Why Google Doodle Celebrated The Midwife Of The 17th Century

The midwife of the 17th Century who challenged the patriarchal attitude of her times, Justine Siegemund, was celebrated by Google Doodle. This Google Doodle was not available and visible to all servers across the world. Countries like America, the UK, Germany, Iceland, and Greece had their doodles changed. She wrote a book, The Court Midwife, which became the first medical book in Germany. It became instrumental in revolutionizing obstetrics and midwifery in her era.

What is the Google Doodle celebrating?

The Google Doodle was celebrating Justine Siegemund. She was a midwife who dared to challenge patriarchal attitudes that were common in the 17th century. Siegmund was the first person in Germany who write a book on obstetrics from the perspective of a woman. On March 28, 1690, the European University Viadrina Frankfurt certified her book, The Court Midwife. Thus it became an official medical textbook.

During a time when women had limited access to information and only a few women had taken formal education, this midwife proved her zeal. She became the first woman to publish a seminal medical text in German, which changed the viewpoint of many people. Google Doodle celebrates this influential figure in the field of midwifery. The Doodle shows her writing and her most famous works alongside pictures of the pregnant anatomy.

When was She born?

Siegemund’s birthplace was Rohnstock, which was in Lower Silesia in 1636. When she was a young woman, she suffered from a prolapsed uterus. The ill-informed midwives misdiagnosed it as pregnancy. Soon, this became a frustrating experience for her. This inspired her to become a midwife herself so that she could improve obstetrical education.

Who is this midwife?

She was a 17th-century German midwife whose book, The Court Midwife, became a seminal work in the field of medicines concerning women. It was the first medical book in Germany which was written from a woman’s perspective. This book aimed at revolutionizing obstetrics and midwifery in her era.

When she was 20 years old, the lady had a prolapsed uterus. However, it was not properly diagnosed. The pain that she experienced at the time fueled her interest in women’s health. She decided to pursue her education and learned childbirth techniques. For over a decade, she has continued to provide free midwifery services to poor women in her area. Gradually, she gained recognition, and soon, she became the midwife to noble and royal families. Thus, the court midwife was born.

The lady faced several sexist attacks. She was even accused of unsafe birthing practices by male physicians. However, with time, the medical establishment sided with her. Gradually, her prestige continued to grow.

How did she begin her career?

After completing an apprenticeship, this lady began her career in midwifery. She started by offering free services to underprivileged women. This helped her gain fame, and the midwife soon became known for her ability to safely guide women through difficult births. As the word began to spread quickly to expecting women across the country, she soon became the midwife to noble and royal families. Thus, she gained the name of court midwife.

Her contribution to the improvement of women’s health and eradication of birth complications made a big difference.

When did she decide to write the book?

Some people believe that Mary II of Orange was quite impressed by Siegemund’s knowledge and skills. It was she who requested the midwife to write a guide for other midwives. During this time, midwifery was primarily an oral tradition. Moreover, there was no standardized method to approach childbirth among German midwives. Medical texts were written all by men. So, the finer details and problems were unaddressed. Siegemund published The Court Midwife in 1690. This book included detailed anatomical drawings along with several of Siegemund’s techniques, which appropriately addressed certain birth complications.

She was married for 42 years but did not have any children. But this court midwife had delivered over 6,000 babies. She died in 1705. However, her legacy lives on as there exist further publications of The Court Midwife in the decades that followed.


Justine Siegemund contribution to the improvement of women’s health and eradication of birth complications made a big difference. Her legacy continues to date and her contribution to the medical field resonates even today through her book.

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Govind Kashyap
Govind Kashyap
Govind Kashyap is a passionate writer with a keen interest in lifestyle, fashion, and health topics. With a knack for storytelling and attention to detail, Govind brings a unique perspective to every piece of content.

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