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accoucheuse

Angelique du Coudray

Angelique Marguerite Le Boursier du Coudray (1712, Paris – 1789, France) was a royal midwife in the court of Louis XV of France.

Born into an eminent French medical family she became the head accoucheuse at the Hotel Dieu in Paris

Du Coudray invented the first lifesize obstetrical mannequin, for practicing mock births. This was a life-sized female torso which used an actual foetus as the baby. The invention is often attributed to Englishman William Smellie, but the French Academy of Surgeons approved Du Coudray's model in 1758 giving her prior claim on the invention.

She published an early midwifery textbook, Abrégé de l'art des accouchements (The Art of Obstetrics) in, 1759.

In 1759, the king commissioned her to teach midwifery to peasant women in an attempt to reduce infant mortality. Between 1760 to 1783, she travelled all over rural France, sharing her extensive knowledge with poor women. She is estimated to have trained some 4,000 women.

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