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Marie-Louise Lachapelle

Born 1769
Died 1821

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French midwife, born January 1, 1769, Paris; died October 4, 1821.

Biography of Marie-Louise Lachapelle

Marie-Louise was the daughter of Louis Dugès, Officier de santé, her mother a sworn midwife at Chatelet and from 1775 chief of midwives (Ober-Hebamme) at Hôtel-Dieu.

Marie-Louise in 1792 married the surgeon Lachapelle who worked at the Hôpital Saint-Louis. He died, however, after two years of a barren marriage. Having served in obstetrics under the direction of her mother from her early youth, Marie-Louise, now a widow, devoted herself to this discipline. Already in 1795 she was appointed assistant and deputy to her mother.

The miserable conditions of the delivery ward in the Hôtel-Dieu occasioned the government to establish two independent institutions, separated from Hôtel-Dieu, one for findlings and one for deliveries, as well as a teaching institution for midwifes.

The latter was opened in 1797 as «Hospice de la maternité», later to be renamed «Maison d’accouchement», with Lachapelle as midwife-in-chief and leader of practical teaching. The theoretical lecturing was done by Jean Louis August Baudelocque (1745-1810), who headed the institution, while Lachapelle was in charge of internal services and the practical education of the pupils.

A woman of no scientific education, Marie-Louise Lachapelle distinguished herself in her way of running things, as well as her experience and knowledge of various positions of the child. She made careful notes of every delivery, and these were published by her nephew, Dr. Antoine Dugès (1797-1838), prosector of the medical faculty in Paris, and from 1824 professor of obstetrics in Montpellier.

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