Leila Parnell (along with Alice Gregory and Maud Cashmere) was one of the great – largely unsung – heroines of modern women’s medicine. This trio “were well-educated, well-connected and devoutly Christian women between 35 and 45 years of age. MrsParnell and Miss Gregory were
teachers approved by the Central Midwives Board”. Between them they revolutionised and professionalised assistance given at childbirth, which until then had been left in the hands of often untrained handy-women, often resulting in an “enormous number of maternal deaths, and of blindness from infantile ophthalmia, beside much untabulated illness and suffering”. Between them their evidence helped secure passage of The Midwives Act (1902), they were also founders of the British Hospital for Mothers and Babies in Woolwich, which became an important training school for midwives.
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