Today’s Google Doodle recognizes a pioneer in the profession of midwifery.
Justine Siegemund altered central Europe’s conception of midwifery. Her Google Doodle is visible in the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Iceland, and Greece.
Google says: “Today’s Doodle honors Justine Siegemund, a 17th-century midwife who dared to defy patriarchal attitudes. She was the first person in Germany to write a book from a woman’s perspective on obstetrics.
The European University Viadrina of Frankfurt certified The Court Midwife as an authentic medical textbook on this date in 1690. Siegmund was the first woman to publish a groundbreaking medical treatise in German at a time when few women had access to formal education.
Siegmund was born in Rostock, today known as Roztoka, Lower Silesia, on December 26, 1636. At the age of 20, she was inspired to study obstetrics and eventually become a midwife after suffering at the hands of midwives who mistook her prolapsed uterus for pregnancy and treated her accordingly.
Siegemund began her work by providing free services to disadvantaged women. As her reputation developed, she tended to the needs of noblewomen, and in 1683 she was awarded the official position of City Midwife in Lignitz. In 1701, she was appointed Court Midwife of Berlin.
Siegemund authored The Court Midwife with great sympathy for women, which was uncommon compared to other books in the period written by men. In his book, Siegmund did not describe labor pains as a penalty for original sin; instead, he focused on saving the mother rather than the infant in life-threatening situations.
Throughout her career, male physicians and midwives made sexist attacks on Siegemund’s reputation by accusing her of dangerous childbirth procedures, but Siegemund survived them all. Unlike her male peers, Siegemund utilized drugs and surgical equipment infrequently during her treatments.