Object of the month: Midwife’s bag

Monthly Artifacts

This midwife’s bag was used in Alta in the post-war era and was donated to the museum along with a kicksled, also used in the midwife service. Today the bag lacks its content; however, it likely contained everything a midwife needed to aid expecting mothers. Comparable bags contain for instance navel clamps, stethoscopes, syringes, thongs, needles and thread for suturing wounds, enemas, gauze, thermometers, bedpan, medicine bottles, rubber hose, measuring tape and matchboxes. These examples can be found at The Coastal Museum in Øygarden and The Stiklestad National Culture Centre.

The book Eye Mother - Birth stories from Sápmi by Toril Hanson, Nina Hermansen, Nina Schmidt and Annie Henriksen (eds.) is a collection of birthing stories from the last century. The book furthermore explores how healthcare development changed the women’s birthing experiences. At the start of the period, homebirths assisted by family was the norm, while later ambulating midwives helped mothers in their own communities. Finally hospital births, often far away from the women’s homes, became the standard. While this was a national development, women in Finnmark continued to give birth at home, or at their local birthing centres, for a longer period than in other parts of the country. 

Lena Karlstrøm, curator