Author(s): Linda Bryder
A history of National Women’s Hospital that also tells a wider story of reproduction, motherhood and women’s health in twentieth-century New Zealand. Natural childbirth and rooming in; artificial insemination and in vitro fertilisation; sterilisation and abortion: women’s health and reproduction went through a revolution in the twentieth century as scientific advances confronted ethical and political dilemmas. In New Zealand, the major site for this revolution was National Women’s Hospital. Established in Auckland in 1946, with a purpose-built building that opened in 1964, National Women’s was the home of medical breakthroughs by Sir William (Bill) Liley and Sir Graham (Mont) Liggins; of the Lawson quintuplets and the ‘glamorous gynaecologists’; and of scandals surrounding the so-called ‘unfortunate experiment’ and the neonatal chest physiotherapy inquiry. In this major history, Linda Bryder traces the rise and fall of National Women’s over half a century in order to tell a wider story of reproductive health. She uses the varying perspectives of doctors, nurses, midwives, consumer groups and patients to show how together their dialogue shaped the nature of motherhood and women’s health in twentieth-century New Zealand.
Linda Bryder is a professor of history at the University of Auckland and holds an honorary chair at the Centre for History in Public Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She completed her DPhil in the history of science at the University of Oxford in 1985 and was founder editor of the Oxford journal Social History of Medicine. She is the author of A History of the ‘Unfortunate Experiment’ at National Women’s Hospital (AUP and Palgrave, 2009) and A Voice for Mothers: The Plunket Society and Infant Welfare 1907–2000 (AUP, 2003); editor of A Healthy Country: Essays on the Social History of Medicine in New Zealand (Bridget Williams, 1991); and joint editor with Janet Greenlees of Western Maternity and Medicine, 1880–1990 (Pickering & Chatto, 2013). Bryder has served as president of the Australian and New Zealand Society of the History of Medicine and the New Zealand Historical Association, and she is also a fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand.