In the 1950s and 1960s young women could study to become obstetric midwives (matronas) at two Bolivian universities. After the 1952 Bolivian Revolution, public health officials saw matronas' work in mining areas and rural public health programs as part of the government's effort to assimilate Indigenous Bolivians into a mestizo national culture, by reforming Indigenous mothers and eliminating demand for Andean midwives (parteras). By the 1970s, a military dictatorship had replaced the revolutionary government, and nursing schools had replaced midwifery programs. The last cohort of matronas now found jobs in public health offering trainings to parteras. Based on oral histories of matronas and parteras, this article examines these women's personal experiences with midwifery and public health. It argues that matronas and parteras shaped public maternal and infant care programs and contributed to the persistence of multiple forms of childbirth assistance in Bolivia.

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