A Look Back at Hospital Births In the 1940s

Christie Haskell
30

When moms start ragging on the state of the modern maternity ward, they're often called crazy, told that the doctors know way better, and it's assumed that hospitals would never do anything to hurt you.

That's what they've always thought. That thinking led to the Twilight Birth period, and even to the almost assembly-line procedures of 1947. Heather of Baby Slime and Jill of Unnecesaren both shared info from pamphlets their mothers had from back then.

For this look back in time, remember not to smoke until your baby is taken to the nursery, and always ask permission before chewing gum!

We of the Maternity Services of _____ Hospital welcome you. We sincerely hope your time spent with us will be happy and rewarding. So that you will feel comfortable with the routines necessary to our department, we have outlined them for you. They have come about because of the need to protect you (and through you, your baby.) For example, all but your most essential contacts with “outsiders” must be eliminated so your baby receives the best possible chance during the first few days of life, since he has built up very little resistance, as yet. (Most of these regulations are based on the laws and regulations of the State Department of Health.)

WHILE YOU ARE IN THE LABOR AND DELIVERY AREAS—

  1. You may have one visitor at a time while you are in the labor-room wing.
  2. You should not get out of bed without the permission of the nurse.
  3. You should not eat or drink anything without the permission of the nurse.
  4. All ear-rings, pins and hair rollers should be removed from your hair before going into the delivery room as these may prove hazardous.
  5. Do not chew gum without the permission of the nurse.
  6. If you wear dentures, removable bridges or contact lenses be sure the nurse is aware of this before you go into the delivery room.

IN THE MATERNITY AREA (AFTER YOUR BABY IS BORN)—

  1. After you have washed your hands, in preparation for your baby at feeding time, do not smoke or use the telephone until your baby is taken back to the nursery.
  2. Do not walk in the halls while babies are out with the mothers. Again, the fewer contacts a baby has with people, the better he will be.
  3. Visitors may not sit on the beds whether they are occupied or not. Remember your baby is placed on your bed while he is with you.
  4. If you have had a saddle block anesthetic, stay flat in bed. Do not raise your head on your elbow. Stay flat until a nurse tells you it is all right to sit up.
  5. A nurse must assist you when you get out of bed for the first time. You may be weaker than you think!
  6. Menus:
    1. Someone will collect your menu, so do not leave it on your food tray.
    2. Be sure you mark all desired food and condiments.
    3. Mark size of portions desired.
    4. Be sure your name is on all three sections of your menu.
  7. Since your baby is specially wrapped so that he can safely be taken back into the nursery, it is requested that you not unwrap your baby when he is with you. If you desire to see him unwrapped, one of the nursery nurses will do it for you.

 

Jill's got the rest of the pamphlet, including the very strict and ridiculous schedule, which includes only one hour a day for viewing the newborn, broken into two 30-minute segments, for visitors.

Pretty glad things have changed since 1947! We do still have a long way to go. Though the prices back then will make your jaw drop, before you consider what that would equal in this day and age:

What's some of the weirdest outdated rules you know of? Have you asked your mom about your birth?

 

Image via The Unnecesaren

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