The Life of Martha Ballard

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In the story A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her diary, 1785-1812 by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich I learned of about a woman named Martha Ballard. Reading about what she did is impressive, especially for her time period. If it weren’t for her diary we would not know about her many achievements and struggles that she overcame. Martha Ballard was a woman born into the 1700s. A woman who claimed a few titles a healer, a midwife, an explorer, a diarist and a pioneer of social medicine. She was a woman during an age where women who were educated were uncommon. She was born and lived during the American Revolution where medical practices were starting to become the basis of the refined practices to where we are today. Martha Ballard found it was necessary to record her life for 27 years to shed insight on her life and the more she work she practiced as a midwife. Over 9000 child births were recorded in her diary and was presented for us today so we can see how much more complicated childbearing was in the 1700s. Martha Ballard was a hardworking woman, to be a midwife and help deliver as many children as she did is incredible. “ When it opened in 1785, she knew how to manufacture salves, syrups, pills, teas, and ointments, how to prepare an oil emulsion, how to poultice wounds, dress burns, treat sore throats, frostbite, measles, colic, lance an abscessed breast, reduce swelling, and relieve a toothache, as well as deliver babies (p.11).” In this sentence alone it already describes how intelligent this woman was for her time. She was skilled and mastered the art of medicine. Back in the 1700s and 1800s social medicine was a common method when being use for childbirths. Social medicine was used by the midwives to help other women during labor. Most of the women in the neighborhood were present during the birth to observe and gradually lend a hand. Ballard
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