Breckinridge, Mary (1881-1965)

Breckinridge, Mary (1881-1965)

TITLE OF VIDEO CLIP
 Breckinridge Family

Section G, Lot 1
After graduating from New York's School of Nursing at St. Luke's Hospital, Mary Breckinridge became a certified midwife in a London, England hospital. She worked with the Visiting Nurse Service in France during World War I. She returned to the remote counties in the mountains of Kentucky and started the Kentucky Commission for Mothers and Babies which became the Frontier Nursing Service in 1925. Until this time, "catching the baby" by the father or a neighbor while the mother delivered it from a squatting position or seated in a chair without a bottom had been the standard birthing procedure. The "horseback angels" traveled within 700 square miles around their Hyden hospital in Leslie County. In the first 50 years of service, they delivered 12,262 babies with a maternal death rate of 9.1 per thousand, while the national mortality rate for white women in childbirth was 34 per thousand. Understanding the pride of the mountain people, Mary Breckinridge allowed them to pay for their medical care at a minimum of $2 per year and $50 per birth. Payment was in money, guns, eggs, or whatever the mountain people had.

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