Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Mom Confessions Mom Confessions

Maternity Wards in the 70′s

Anonymous
Posted by Anonymous
  • 57 Replies
7 moms liked this

Some of the stories I want to tell are about maternity life as an OB nurse in the 70 ‘s. This is what I remember and not any type of historical reference. Try to picture this as I attempt to set the stage for some of the other stories I wish to tell.

When I first started to learn the business of birthing babies, I was taught by nurses who had already been doing this for 25 or 30 years…. They all wore scrub DRESSES not “scrubs” and some wore their nurses caps. These ladies were seasoned, experienced, somewhat hardened nurses and they referred to me as… “the young whipper-snapper”. This could be because I was practically a teenager, barely 20 yrs old !! I also immediately hemmed my scrub dresses up to a mini skirt length! Even though I was so very naive, I was very eager to learn and fell in love with the birth process…. I soaked up everything they taught me.

We probably had 700- 800 births a year at the time. Most vaginal deliveries stayed 4-5 days and Cesareans about 7 – 8 days. Seemed busy a lot of the time as far as the census.

Many of the mom’s in labor wanted twilight sleep and then opted to be “put under” which didn’t happened until they were moved to the delivery room, crowning. Seem so ridiculous now…I mean it’s just about over! Our Labor Rooms were doubles. No privacy, with one bathroom for 4 beds. When a mother was admitted to the labor room, she was given a full shave prep, and a soap suds enema. Remember, one bathroom for 4 beds. Fathers were NOT “allowed” in…. much later they were “allowed”..but only if they were married AND could produce a certificate of some kind that they had gone to a childbirth class!! Even then, just learning, I hated the regimented mentality and all the rules!

We did not initially have a fetal monitor. When we did get one, it was used only if the doctor thought there was a need or if we saw meconium. Mostly we used a DeLee-Hillis Fetoscope (looks like a unicorn on your head) or a Leff Fetoscope (a heavy round metal disc we called it a Leffscope). We would get fetal heat tones on admission and every 15 or 30 mins or so. I know there is a lot of controversy now about fetal monitoring. I get it…both sides of the debate. I respect that. In the 70′s, we didn’t have it, we didn’t know much about it so there were many unanticipated needs for newborn resuscitation. These poor girls would be in labor, often with out anyone to help them. Many of the nurses would be out having coffee and cigarettes while labor progressed until it was time to push. The nurses’ felt no obligation to be a “coach”. There was virtually NO paperwork compared to today. The mom’s would push in the labor room until it was time to go to the delivery room……THEN we would move this poor lady onto a stretcher, barely cover her with a sheet and head across the hall into the Delivery Room where she had to move once again onto the Delivery Table.

Before there were beepers…. The doctor would either stay in the “on-call” room, office across the street or he’d be at home. There were a few doc’s who loved to play tennis or basketball, there were courts at the college on the same side of the building as labor/delivery. On the weekends, we would use a window shade to signal when the doctor needed to come in for the birth! They were good about dropping the ball so to speak and running in when needed!

The Delivery Room was treated with the respect of an operating room. Everything had to be “sterile” and everyone had to be dressed like we were doing open-heart surgery. Blood was considered clean. we didn’t wear gloves to handle blood or birth fliuds! Sterile gloves were worn for sterile procedures and regular gloves were worn for handling contaminated items. We would crank crank crank the bed to move the bottom half away and the mom would get all draped up to her neck. For care of the baby, we used a Kreiselman Bassinet Resuscitator. This is an old green baby bed with a warmer over the top and oxygen/ suction/ positive pressure assisted breathing attachments. If the baby was in any trouble, we would call anesthesia to help if they were not already there giving the mom her requested “put me out” gases. Most babies were just fine, only sluggish and sleepy. If mom did get put out..she probably didn’t see her baby until many many hours later. Can you imagine? Twins were often a surprise…. this was before ultrasound. An episiotomy always seemed to be the norm. It wasn’t always a medial but often a big mediolateral episiotomy.

Once delivered, the baby went to the nursery and became the immediate property of the nurses, only to be seen from a window and allowed to be with the mother at token intervals. The poor little baby was often keep without food/ only water for the first 12 hrs. Breastfeeding was something only the hippies did in the early 70′s… the re-interest or rise in breastfeeding began in the later 70′s. The mother would be once again moved to a stretcher and taken to the Recovery Room where she was awoken, told if she had a boy or girl AND finally be allowed a visit by her husband.

I am so very happy that things are better now. Some of the stories I wish to share in the future will reflect the times and our knowledge as it was then.

Posted by Anonymous on Sep. 12, 2013 at 4:52 AM
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Replies (1-10):
Sassy762
by CAFE SASSY HBIC on Sep. 12, 2013 at 4:59 AM
1 mom liked this

I had my first DD in 1979......I had an Epidural, I also delivered the baby in the room I was put in and stayed in that room  throughout my hospital stay. They also put this extremely large mirror in front of me....they assumed I wanted to watch the baby being delivered, lol She stayed in the room with me and only went to the nursery a few times.

Quoting Anonymous:

Some of the stories I want to tell are about maternity life as an OB nurse in the 70 ‘s. This is what I remember and not any type of historical reference. Try to picture this as I attempt to set the stage for some of the other stories I wish to tell.

When I first started to learn the business of birthing babies, I was taught by nurses who had already been doing this for 25 or 30 years…. They all wore scrub DRESSES not “scrubs” and some wore their nurses caps. These ladies were seasoned, experienced, somewhat hardened nurses and they referred to me as… “the young whipper-snapper”. This could be because I was practically a teenager, barely 20 yrs old !! I also immediately hemmed my scrub dresses up to a mini skirt length! Even though I was so very naive, I was very eager to learn and fell in love with the birth process…. I soaked up everything they taught me.

We probably had 700- 800 births a year at the time. Most vaginal deliveries stayed 4-5 days and Cesareans about 7 – 8 days. Seemed busy a lot of the time as far as the census.

Many of the mom’s in labor wanted twilight sleep and then opted to be “put under” which didn’t happened until they were moved to the delivery room, crowning. Seem so ridiculous now…I mean it’s just about over! Our Labor Rooms were doubles. No privacy, with one bathroom for 4 beds. When a mother was admitted to the labor room, she was given a full shave prep, and a soap suds enema. Remember, one bathroom for 4 beds. Fathers were NOT “allowed” in…. much later they were “allowed”..but only if they were married AND could produce a certificate of some kind that they had gone to a childbirth class!! Even then, just learning, I hated the regimented mentality and all the rules!

We did not initially have a fetal monitor. When we did get one, it was used only if the doctor thought there was a need or if we saw meconium. Mostly we used a DeLee-Hillis Fetoscope (looks like a unicorn on your head) or a Leff Fetoscope (a heavy round metal disc we called it a Leffscope). We would get fetal heat tones on admission and every 15 or 30 mins or so. I know there is a lot of controversy now about fetal monitoring. I get it…both sides of the debate. I respect that. In the 70′s, we didn’t have it, we didn’t know much about it so there were many unanticipated needs for newborn resuscitation. These poor girls would be in labor, often with out anyone to help them. Many of the nurses would be out having coffee and cigarettes while labor progressed until it was time to push. The nurses’ felt no obligation to be a “coach”. There was virtually NO paperwork compared to today. The mom’s would push in the labor room until it was time to go to the delivery room……THEN we would move this poor lady onto a stretcher, barely cover her with a sheet and head across the hall into the Delivery Room where she had to move once again onto the Delivery Table.

Before there were beepers…. The doctor would either stay in the “on-call” room, office across the street or he’d be at home. There were a few doc’s who loved to play tennis or basketball, there were courts at the college on the same side of the building as labor/delivery. On the weekends, we would use a window shade to signal when the doctor needed to come in for the birth! They were good about dropping the ball so to speak and running in when needed!

The Delivery Room was treated with the respect of an operating room. Everything had to be “sterile” and everyone had to be dressed like we were doing open-heart surgery. Blood was considered clean. we didn’t wear gloves to handle blood or birth fliuds! Sterile gloves were worn for sterile procedures and regular gloves were worn for handling contaminated items. We would crank crank crank the bed to move the bottom half away and the mom would get all draped up to her neck. For care of the baby, we used a Kreiselman Bassinet Resuscitator. This is an old green baby bed with a warmer over the top and oxygen/ suction/ positive pressure assisted breathing attachments. If the baby was in any trouble, we would call anesthesia to help if they were not already there giving the mom her requested “put me out” gases. Most babies were just fine, only sluggish and sleepy. If mom did get put out..she probably didn’t see her baby until many many hours later. Can you imagine? Twins were often a surprise…. this was before ultrasound. An episiotomy always seemed to be the norm. It wasn’t always a medial but often a big mediolateral episiotomy.

Once delivered, the baby went to the nursery and became the immediate property of the nurses, only to be seen from a window and allowed to be with the mother at token intervals. The poor little baby was often keep without food/ only water for the first 12 hrs. Breastfeeding was something only the hippies did in the early 70′s… the re-interest or rise in breastfeeding began in the later 70′s. The mother would be once again moved to a stretcher and taken to the Recovery Room where she was awoken, told if she had a boy or girl AND finally be allowed a visit by her husband.

I am so very happy that things are better now. Some of the stories I wish to share in the future will reflect the times and our knowledge as it was then.


                              


Iwillnevertell
by on Sep. 12, 2013 at 5:04 AM
I look forward to reading your stories! Being a nurse myself and always interested in the way things used to be done.

I thought the twilight births ended before the 70s? When did they stop doing that?
jamamama00
by Ruby Member on Sep. 12, 2013 at 5:12 AM
1 mom liked this
This is one of the reasons I make fun of people who believe that doctors and nurses know best when it comes to labor and delivery. I am NOT a fanatic homebirther or one of those who writes up a ten page birth plan. But I also have fought against many interventions during my baby-having years. Birthing has changed so much over the years...I don't know why anyone believes that doctors have it "right" now....
cjsix
by Platinum Member on Sep. 12, 2013 at 5:19 AM
Thank you for this...it will be interesting to read the rest of your stories.
Anonymous
by Anonymous 2 on Sep. 12, 2013 at 5:25 AM
1 mom liked this
Thanks for the great read!
Bellarose0212
by Gold Member on Sep. 12, 2013 at 5:28 AM
2 moms liked this

Glad I didn't give birth then/in a hospital. The separation of mothers and babies makes me so sad. I'm glad that rooming in and skin-to-skin are becoming more common in hospitals.

maddiesmommy5
by Gold Member on Sep. 12, 2013 at 5:31 AM

 That sounds awful :(

CafeMom Tickers
DirtyPrincess
by Platinum Member on Sep. 12, 2013 at 5:34 AM
Looking forward to more stories of yours! That was a very interesting read!
nikkidedman
by Bronze Member on Sep. 12, 2013 at 5:37 AM
It's crazy how different things were then.

A little later, but my mil had my dh in the 80's and she was allowed to smoke in the recovery room. She also said her doctor used to come into the room at her appointments smoking.
PinkyPan
by Ruby Member on Sep. 12, 2013 at 5:38 AM

My oldest was born in 1980. I had a natural childbirth with a full vaginal shave. He was kept in the nursery and I had to request that he be brought to my room. The nurses would allow me to have him a few hours at a time and then tell me he had to return to the nursery. 

Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

close Join now to connect to
other members!
Connect with Facebook or Sign Up Using Email

Already Joined? LOG IN