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1974 Maternity Ward Pamphlet for New Mothers

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By Jill—Unnecesarean


This pamphlet was given to pregnant women at a hospital in Southern California in 1974.


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.)


  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.


  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 especially 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.
  8. Do not sit on the side of the bed to feed your bay. You and the baby will be safer and more comfortable if you have a back rest.
  9. The nursery nurses are available at any time to assist you with breast feeding or to answer any questions you may have.
  10. When you are ready for your baby, be sure that the top sheet and spread are pulled up so that the baby can be placed on the spread.
  11. It is suggested that, if you are nursing your baby, you gown opens in the front for convenience.
  12. The schedule of activities for the mother must be planned around the baby’s visits to the mother. Listed below are the approximate time that there activities are scheduled:

1)  Awakened at 5 A.M. to prepare for baby’s first visit of the day. Coffee is available at this time.

2)  The babies are brought out to the mothers at: 5:30 A.M. – 10:00 A.M. – 1:30 P.M. – 5:30 P.M. Babies are brought out at 10:00 P.M. and 2:00 A.M. only at the request of the mother or the pediatrician.

3)  Meals are served at:

7:45 A.M. – 11:45 A.M. – 4:45 P.M.

Nourishments are served at:

10:30 – 11:00; 2:30 – 3:00; and 9:00 P.M.

4)  Showers can be taken:

8:15 to 9:30 A.M. (and other times, if necessary)

5)  “Peri-Care”: at 4:00 P.M.

Heat lamps – after shower, and at 4:00 P.M.

6)  Visiting hours:

2:30 to 4:00 P.M. and 7:00 to 8:00 P.M.

7)  Babies are shown (through Nursery Windows):

Immediately after birth, and 3:30 to 4:00 P.M.

                                       and 7:30 to 8:00 P.M.



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  • Response
    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

Reader Comments (28)

Blech. How depressing. I feel so bad for those moms. Four scheduled times a day to be with your baby?!? And don't unwrap her without help from a nurse!

How awful to be forced to be separated from your baby.

Thanks for sharing.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJessi

Thanks for sharing this. Quite scary about how rigid the hospital "rules" were back then. Believe it or not, we have actually moved forward in the last few decades. But we still have a long way to go!

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteratyourcervix

When did the poor babies eat?! So staff is on hand to help with breastfeeding, but only a few times a day will you be allowed to feed your baby...*sigh*

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSara

Wow. Just wow.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAugusta

That was the year my husband was born...definitely sending this to his mom! I like how smoking is ok, just not with the baby in the room. Not sure why you can't use the phone while holding the baby though.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteremjaybee

Golly! Sounds like Mother may I meets Nurse Ratched.
Well I don't know, when I had my daughter in 1987 you could SMOKE in the patient rooms. We all four of us had to agree to bring the babies back to the nursery and we all had those little foil ashtrays at our disposal. I was laughing about it recently when I had my baby there, the staff remembers it too.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSaanenMother

No wonder they were so distressed with me when I had my C section in 1973! I unwrapped the baby every time they brought him. When they told me he was crying in the nursery, and asked if I had enough milk, I told them not to let him cry, to bring him to me. I got the pediatrician I had been assigned, who turned out to be wonderful, to write an order that this was OK. They still mostly didn't do it as the idea was so foreign to them, but it happened a few times when his insistent crying bothered them too much. I wouldn't feed him bottles of sugar water. Dumping them down the sink probably messed up their Intake and Output records considerably. I always insisted that they bring him at night. I do remember a nurse saying persuasively, "We usually give the babies a bottle at night so the mothers can get some sleep. You've been through a major operation. You have to heal and you need your sleep. It won't be long before he is keeping you awake at night. Why don't you just take this one night to get some sleep?" It was very difficult for me to squeak out "I would still rather you bring him." I say squeak out because my throat was closing with the emotion of the effort of opposing authority.
With my first VBAC in 74 the baby went to the nursery only once, when I first went to my room. Then they brought her, I nursed her and slept with her, and in the morning we went home. My husband stayed the whole time. I didn't know how unusual this was for those days.
Susan Peterson

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Peterson


Phone germs were a leading cause of death in 1974.


November 11, 2010 | Registered CommenterJill

@emjaybee -- I think the "no smoking" and the "no talking on the phone" was in reference to the germs the mother might pick up and then transfer to her baby while the baby was in the room, thus "contaminating" the baby, and when the baby was taken back to the nursery, it would then "contaminate" the rest of the "sterile" (ha!) nursery.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

I was born in 1974, and hubby in 1972. I've heard the bad stories about being stuck in the hospital for a week after a routine vaginal delivery and being forced to sit in sitz baths and look at your baby in the nursery, all the while only having your husband drop in once per day.

For the few women who were breastfeeding, how did they get enough access to the baby? Must ask my mom.

November 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKK
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