Obstetrics in Florence
The first obstetrics school in Florence was probably founded in 1756 near the Ospedale di Santa Maria Nuova. Starting in 1776, an "obstetrical practice" with a midwife and surgeon was set up in every district of the city. In 1756, Giuseppe Vespa—a "master of the apron [i.e., a master of his art] and childbirth practitioner" who had perfected his skills at Levret's clinic in Paris—was appointed as instructor. In 1783 he was succeeded by Francesco Valle, assisted from 1806 by Giuseppe Galletti. The schools aimed to provide basic knowledge of basic hygiene standards and to substitute rigorous scientific ideas for the traditional prejudices that had blocked progress in the art of child delivery. In the process, the functions of the midwife were gradually separated from those of the physician. Guidelines were also drawn up for determining which cases required the help of a surgeon.
By the end of the eighteenth century, obstetrics was distinct from general surgery, and was practiced by specialized faculty. Pregnant women's right to assistance was recognized, and the vast corpus of case histories available had made it possible to develop ever more reliable techniques.
Last update 02/feb/2008