Justina Siegemund: The Self-Taught Midwife Who Revolutionized Childbirth

Justina Siegemund, born Justina Dittrich, was a midwife born in Rohnstock near Jauer in Silesia at the end of the 17th century. She was the daughter of a clergyman and married a pension clerk named Siegemund. At the age of 20, she was thought to be pregnant and was attended by various midwives for 14 days until it was discovered that she was not pregnant. This experience prompted her to study midwifery in order to help other women avoid similar suffering.

Justina Siegemund’s life:

BornEnd of the 17th century
Place of BirthRohnstock near Jauer in Silesia


Siegemund taught herself midwifery through books and illustrations, and for 12 years from the age of 25, she helped poor peasant women. Her reputation grew, and she was eventually called to Liegnitz as a midwife and later by the Elector Friedrich Wilhelm to Berlin as a court mother. She eventually traveled as far as Friesland and Holland.

Siegemund submitted her works to the medical faculty in Frankfurt a. O. for censorship. Her work “The Kur-Brandenburgische Hof-Wohe-Mutter” was approved on March 28, 1689, and has been reprinted several times. The work includes original illustrations that are considered to be better than those found in midwifery textbooks by Rößlin and Rueff at the time. Siegemund’s book excellently describes the course of childbirth, gives an exact description of investigations, and describes the turning of the feet well. She also invented a stick for inserting twist loops and recommended treatment for the present placenta.

Siegemund’s work received criticism from Professor A. Petermann in Leipzig, who called her encheireses absurd. However, the Frankfurt faculty took her side in the quarrel. While midwifery textbooks similar to hers had appeared earlier, such as those by Margarethe du Tertre in 1677, Siegemund’s work was considered superior.

The Kur-Brandenburgische Hof-Wohe-Mutter

Justina Siegemund’s dedication to midwifery and her passion for helping others led her to become an expert in the field. Her book, “The Kur-Brandenburgische Hof-Wohe-Mutter,” is considered a masterpiece of midwifery literature and is still referenced today. Her contributions to midwifery have helped countless women over the years and continue to be appreciated by scholars and practitioners alike.

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