Midwife of the Week: Mary Breckinridge

breckinridge1After losing her two children to early death, Mary Breckinridge channeled her energies into nursing in hopes of raising “the status of childhood everywhere.” She served as a nurse in France during WWI and believed the model of midwifery she found there could greatly assist the women of her home state of Kentucky, many of whom birthed with no access to health care, and only the help of their neighbors and families. In 1925 she founded the Frontier Nursing Service, a program centered in Eastern Kentucky with outposts throughout the state.

breckinridge2FNS now houses the Frontier Nursing University, which provides nurse-midwifery education focused on serving its students’ communities. FNS also houses the Courier Program, established by Breckinridge in 1928. Originally, women in this program provided safe transport for patients from remote areas to birthing centers and clinics. Though they’ve traded their horses for cars, the interns in this program continue to facilitate services between these clinics and the patients they serve. Current couriers share their experiences at http://www.khakiandwhite.blogspot.com/

Midwife of the Week posts, written by Sirene-Rose Lipschutz, originate on FoMM’s Facebook page and are archived here on our website for your continued enjoyment!