Monday, September 26, 2011

Nurse Delivering Baby

Today's picture is from the early 1900's, and is shows a Nurse/Midwife who has just delivered a baby. The mother is in the bed on the right. As I look through old pictures, it appears that midwives were very common, and in fact probably more common that doctors. I wonder when the tradition of midwifes stopped?

I am willing to bet that the tradition of nurses having a larger role as primary care providers will increase. I believe our population is aging faster than we can make new doctors, and hence more responsibility will be put on nurse practitioners. 


  1. I wonder what is on the wall? It looks like a calendar on the right, but what about on the left? Is it a long set of rules? Was this in a hospital, or at home? The mother looks exhausted.
    I like the old style nurses' uniforms.

    There are a lot of midwives in practice.
    My second youngest daughter was delivered my a midwife in a hospital. She was very competent.

  2. My mother had 4 0f us 7 kids at home.The doctor made house calls. I can't even imagine myself doing that. I was knocked out when I delivered mine, but do remember the pressure, so I guess I wasn't completely knocked out.

  3. Is that maybe the dad on the right? He appears to havea beard.

  4. before plastics. The bed is metal, the baby bedframe is metal and the baby bed itself looks to be wicker. It's amazing how many things today are plastic.

  5. I thought midwives were still around as well, I'm sure not as prevalent as they once were. For some reason in the 60's, when I was born they knocked mom out, stayed in the hospital for 3 days and bottle fed the baby. Maybe it was a cultural thing too. I'm sure in the country it was more natural and the city was supposedly high tech. As we know, high tech isn't always good for ya.

  6. For a young lady having a baby is as natural as growing hair. In my day women had the child and were up and about doing their household chores within an hour or two!
    Nowadays everything is so over-reactive.
    We take all of these dumb precautions when it is nothing but a waste of time.
    I remember when my young brother Zeke was born early in the morning and Mom made a beef stew with a side of potato stuffing that very night!!! And she didn't complain about labor pains either...because people then were made of grit and hard work, not like today. And now they even want the husband to be in the delivery room when the baby is born! Dang!!!
    My son in law told me that when my granddaughter was born the doctor looked at him and asked if he would like to cut the umbilical cord. My son in laws reply was "Don't you think there's someone a little more qualified around here?"
    If good ol' Groucho Marx was there he probably would have added, "Will you deduct it from the bill?"
    Keep posting the pics young man, adn I'll keep lookin' at em.
    And God Bless your wonderful daughter on her missionary work!!!

  7. In the 60's they were so fussy about the father being in the same room with the baby. They made me leave the romm, brought the baby in then let me come back in,
    On the day I took my first born home, they made me leave the room brought the baby in and then let me back in to take the baby home.
    I thought that was about as dumb as a box of rocks, and I told them so.
    But I kept my cool and used very nice words

  8. To Mean old man-- If the father/husband was in the room when the baby was made, Then why shouldn't he be there to see it being born? I've heard it said, "If the husband had to have every other baby, then there wouldn't be more than 3 children in a family". The man just couldn't take it.

  9. Well, it doesn't sound as if Mean Old Man has actually given birth to many children. I was in the hospital for five days, and my mom was in for ten. We weren't even allowed to sit up to nurse! And no amount of asking got us out of there early.

    My mom was born at home, atttended by a doctor. My grandmother wasn't even allowed out of the house for the first month (1921) and that first trip was to the church for my mom's baptism. Maybe my grandmother cooked dinner when she got home, but I rather doubt it!

  10. My wife was in labor with our daughter for more than 15 hours (and I took them both home the next day). She delivered naturally at the hospital with only local anesthesia. The way I saw it, the doctor is there if things go wrong. A midwife isn't going to preform an emergency surgical (caesarian) delivery. They might not be able to turn the baby if needed. In the "good old days" the death rate for both mother and baby were many times higher than now.


  11. Mean Old Man's mother obviously never had any serious complications requiring surgery, like hemorrhaging. I'm glad for her but some of us weren't so lucky.

  12. Mean Old Man,
    There are women in Africa who work in the fields til it's time to have the baby, hang on to a branch while the kid's dropping, then nurse it while they go back to working the fields.
    Personally, I can't say what's the right way. (Or if there is one).

  13. Joe (previous entry) and Mean Old Man: when and after you give birth, I'll give your comments some credance. Otherwise, 'til then, you, sir(s). . . shush up.

    PS: I had 4 babies. Was not ever knocked out for delivery AND did not feel like getting up in an hour or two to go do the chores or work in the rice paddies. That is not to say that I couldn't have done that had I had to -- but I sure didn't feel up to that or want to.

  14. Mean Old Man, when was the last time you gave birth? People are made of grit today, but these days we're more enlightened. We're better aware of the things that can and often do go wrong with childbirth - both with the children and the mothers. This is the reason the infant and maternal mortality statistics aren't nearly what they were. Precautions are never dumb. They are life-saving. Literally.

    And what's wrong with the husband being part of the birth. It's his baby, too.

  15. My husband was present for all 6 of our children's births. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. They were his children too and I think it helps the husband to see what the woman has to go through. I always felt it was a loving thing that my husband wanted to be there for it and to see his child the minute it entered the world.It never made sense to me that they would shut the fathers out. It would make me feel like the doctors didn't want another objective party present in case he made a mistake. My hospital experiences were quite positive but I always let the nurses know(in a nice way) I was the mother and wanted to be asked before they did anything to my baby. I think the hospitals have come a long way in that sense but I still wanted the baby right next to me not in the nursery where someone could steal it or get it mixed up with another baby! I also think the hospital push Cesarean sections and I wanted to be fully aware and not numbed or drugged so I couldn't push the baby out on my own.
    This is such an interesting blog!

  16. I wonder if that is the father of the baby there in the left corner?

  17. Where I live, the nearest hospital is 25 miles away. I was taking an immigrant neighbor to the hospital in the middle of the night (she didn't speak English and a mutual friend was translating developments to me as we drove.

    When her water broke about two miles out from home, I hightailed to the Police Department and pounded on the locked door for assistance. While waiting, the baby just tumbled into my hands.

    When the paramedics arrived, they thought I was a midwife as I'd apparently done everything properly.

    Such an adventure, and so memorable! I felt like I had participated in one of life's great miracles.

  18. Midwifery is still practiced in most areas of the country. They aren't like they used to be though. You know the picturesque story of the male in the family rushing off on his fastest steed to gather the midwife from across town...

    Now they are in the hospitals and are used to help keep costs down for hospital deliveries. Pregnant women go to them for their deliveries/prenatal care. They are just as educated in their trade as the nurses are in theirs. They are great ladies keeping continuing old continuing old traditions in modern ways.

  19. The midwives were more common than doctors. At one time, it was considered inappropriate for a man to be present at the birth - that would include the doctor. How that attitude changed, I'm not sure. Like everything else I suppose, slowly but surely. Women themselves may have become more comfortable with the idea or perhaps they had no choice if the rural doctor was a man and no midwife was around to help.

    My sister-in-law gave birth at home using a mIdwife, so they're still around.