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Giving birth in the 60s & 70s, what was it like?

(199 Posts)
Purpletinofpaint Fri 02-Aug-19 11:45:16

I'm curious to learn what it might have been like? All I know from my own dm is that she was shaved & had an enema before delivery & that her legs were up in stirrups & babies were kept in a separate room. What do you remember?

Blinko Fri 02-Aug-19 11:50:58

I had two C-sections. The surgeon was of the old fashioned, 'I know best' variety. He believed in the cut being straight down the tum from navel to pubes. None of your fancy bikini line cuts in those days. Mores the pity. Now if/when I'm examined, younger docs look at me enquiringly. They're clearly not used to the vertical scar unless it's for major abdominal surgery.

fizzers Fri 02-Aug-19 11:55:15

my daughter was born in 1979, I nearly didn't make it to the hospital in time, so there was no time for the shave and the enema, but that would've been on the cards! am glad it wasn't. Yup, legs in stirrups.

Babies were kept in a nursery overnight and brought in next morning, we had to time how long we breastfed on each breast and we were told to feed them at set hours.

The hospital stay was 5 days, it was called 'lying-in', a mother is supposed to have much needed bed rest after delivery. When I had my daughter it had just been reduced from 7 days. I do think that having a baby in the morning and then home later that afternoon is a bit too soon, I know a couple of women friends of my daughter who had severe haemorrhages at home.

Am so glad things have changed now and that's it's less regimented and severe

vena11 Fri 02-Aug-19 11:55:18

My children were born in the late 70s , what your dm said was true. One of my dc was born at tea time and I did not see him until the next day, I had a normal birth without any complications, I woke up in the morning and wondered if I had had a baby it was disgraceful. People would not let that happen now a days and they kept us in hospital for a week.

We all did have a good rest and were looked after well.

Nandalot Fri 02-Aug-19 11:58:15

My two children were born five years apart, late sixties, mid seventies. DH banished for first child, was ‘allowed’ to be present for second. In the sixties, for your first child you were supposed to stay in hospital for ten days but if things went well you could leave after seven. For my second child I had a choice and could leave after 48 hours but neighbour opted to stay in for the full time as it would save on her meals!
In both cases babies stayed by your bed during the day but went to the night nursery at night.
Yes, shaved first time and I remember the enema and one frantic dash to the bathroom.

nanaK54 Fri 02-Aug-19 12:00:06

Purpletinofpaint why the interest, are you writing a book?

Willow500 Fri 02-Aug-19 12:16:28

There was a similar thread on this not so long ago.

My first son was born in 1971 - husband had to drop me off at the door and told to ring back at lunch time (it was 6am and my waters had broken) he went to work. I was shaved, had an enema, no contractions until 12 and baby born at 4pm. He came in at visiting time that evening to meet his son. 10 days in hospital and only on the last day were we shown how to bathe our babies or even change their nappies.

Second son born in 1974 - similar experience although a much longer labour and I had pethidine and gas & air for pain relief. Husband came in at visiting time and sat a while but was sent home and I was left on my own all night. Stern nurses telling me not to be so silly making a noise. If it hadn't been for my own lovely GP coming in the next morning to examine me and breaking my waters I don't know how long I would have been there. Son shot out and doctor caught him shock

Birth back then were a world away from today's mums experiences!

midgey Fri 02-Aug-19 12:34:09

I think I am nuts.....I read the title as women giving birth in THEIR sixties and seventies. I will go and have a lie downgrin

Gonegirl Fri 02-Aug-19 12:36:12

I read it that way too. grin

KatyK Fri 02-Aug-19 12:43:54

My experience was exactly as per your post Purpletinofpaint. Shaved, enema, legs up in stirrups to have my waters broken, horrible midwives/nurses (mainly). Gas and air. Students being brought in to 'observe'. Call the Midwife it wasn't. My mum came to visit and picked the baby up. A nurse shouted 'put that baby down'. In hospital for a week before due to high BP. Drugged up to the eyeballs 'to help me relax'. Kept in for 10 days afterwards. I was only 20 and terrified but it was SO worth it when my baby girl arrived.

Gonegirl Fri 02-Aug-19 12:51:45

First baby in '68, was fantastic. Had Pethadine. Felt so happy!

Second in '72 born at home. No pain relief as midwife had a cold and got there too late. hmm

Third baby 1980, born in short stay hospital. No pain relief by choice. Sang quietly while the contractions were going on, as per my Natural Childbirth book. It worked! Was ok. Home on second day.

Gonegirl Fri 02-Aug-19 12:52:41

I got away with it very lightly. Wish I could do it one more time.

Davida1968 Fri 02-Aug-19 12:55:10

Exactly what you said, purpletinofpaint!

dragonfly46 Fri 02-Aug-19 13:02:05

I had my daughter at Queen Charlottes in London in 1977. No scans in those days but I did not have an enema but was shaved. We stayed 7 days and could choose whether the baby stayed with me or not. I was told to get up the next morning and have a bath. I was offered pethidine but did not use it.

I had my son in Holland. It was very different. No pain killers offered. No enema or shaving. I was sent home the next day but was not allowed to get up - even sit up. My stomach was bound to force my bladder down - didn't work and I was stretchered home in an ambulance and told not to get out of bed for 5 days. The good part was that you had someone come in every day to clean the house, look after you, get shopping and cook. The first thing I did on arriving home was have a bath and the nurse was horrified. It was archaic. They also used to feed him a bottle before bringing him to me as they did not believe in breast feeding. Fortunately I had done it before so could carry on at home.

dragonfly46 Fri 02-Aug-19 13:03:15

No stirrups with either - in fact encouraged to walk around until the actual birth in Queen Charlottes.

tanith Fri 02-Aug-19 13:04:40

Just like the others in 1969 had enema,bath,shave, gas and air, methadone had 8 stitches with my first. Baby was kept in the nursery only had her to feed and change all nappies and baby nighties and bottles were supplied and we were kept in 10 days its relly draconian co.pared to now.

tanith Fri 02-Aug-19 13:05:51

Not methadone , pethadine (sp)

Minniemoo Fri 02-Aug-19 13:06:11

I was shaved and had an enema in 1981. I had a PPH so had to stay in a while. I had a private room in an NHS maternity hospital. We had large sacks of salt in the bathroom to be used in baths. Very soothing. Babies were whisked away to the nursery at 9pm. Heavenly.

When I had my 2nd I asked what time they were taking the babies to the nursery and they looked horrified that I'd ask such a thing!

NanKate Fri 02-Aug-19 13:13:50

Absolutely bloody awful. I was told that I was making more noise that the rest of the ward put together, no sympathy, no gas and air. Left on our own most of the time.

Some years later my doc read a report on the birth and said ‘that must have been painful your son came out face to pubes and his spine was crushing your spine’. I could have hugged him for explaining why it was so awful.

I could never face it again. I have a lovely son who I am very close to despite our rocky start.

TerriBull Fri 02-Aug-19 13:17:56

At first glance I thought the title of the thread said "giving birth in your 60s and 70s, what was it like?" "surely there can only be one or two of those women" were my thoughts shock

Anyway, read it properly and it all makes sense now, so I'll bow out, because I gave birth in the '80s and '90s, like dragonfly in Queen Charlottes, West London.

Daisymae Fri 02-Aug-19 13:27:28

Awful. Prem baby taken away, no attempt to take me to see baby for 24 hours baby cared for by the staff who didn't encourage me to hold or feed. I think they adopted the baby. Vital time to bond lost.

Calendargirl Fri 02-Aug-19 13:41:32

First baby 1974. Inducing was fashionable, so waters broken and put on a drip, she was one day overdue! This was at 10.45a.m, she was born at 15.15p.m. Short and sharp. I remember clutching the sterile sheet that covered me when they were breaking my waters, and the doctor told me off! I seemed to be apologising all the time as I was only 21, on my own, DH was at work not aware of my predicament, no mobiles to keep up to date as now.
DS born 1976, another quick birth, hardly time to get to delivery room. Once again DH at work. Appeared when all the hard work was over, bless him!

shysal Fri 02-Aug-19 13:47:27

My first in 1970 was similar to your description, in a GP unit but luckily labour was less than 2 hours. DH complained that he had to miss an important football match on TV. There was no chance to bond with the baby and I remember feeling like crying the whole time. Beds were short so I was sent home after 5 days.

Daughter no 2 was born at home in 1971, which was wonderful. A 24 hour labour but one whiff of gas and air which I hated so no pain relief. GP was called by the midwife to stitch me up and brought his own home made strirrup contraption to make it easier, then asked my DH to admire his embroidery. I cooked a Sunday roast while in labour, and even put out the dustbin on the morning of the birth a few hours after the delivery. Midwife told me not to go down stairs for 24 hours, I was down within minutes of her leaving! DD1 woke up to a new sister who brought her a toy piano (what were we thinking?) . All my memories of the event are happy, such a difference in comparison to the first.

MrsEggy Fri 02-Aug-19 14:44:28

First baby 1966 - baby boom meant no room at local maternity hospital so was booked to have home birth. DH had to phone the midwife (and we had no phone in the house so he had to go to neighbours). First midwife told me I was not in labour, told me I'ld be rolling about in agony if I was! Horrible woman. After a later call a lovely West Indian nurse came, but kept having to leave to visit other patients leaving me and DH to get on with it. After about 24 hours and no result she phoned the GP who decided I should go to Hospital as an emergency - he too had to visit neighbour to phone an ambulance. DH had to follow ambulance in our mini. When we arrived at hospital DH was told to go away and return 2 hours later, and DS1 was delivered by forceps. After a brief glimpse he was taken to the nursery to be "cot nursed" while I was taken to a ward. I didn't see him again till next morning when I had to walk (despite many stitches) from the ward to the nursery. We were sent home the following day in a mini-bus ambulance with other mothers each holding our babies (no seat belts in those days). It took me 10 weeks to heal - all in all a horrible experience!

BlueBelle Fri 02-Aug-19 15:22:43

First baby 1967 in HK military hospital she was breech So shaved, enema, measured with a bloody ruler between my legs to judge if I had a wide enough pelvis then induced (very scared, all alone bar docs nurses etc) gave birth to breech baby naturally with pethidine , stitched up, in for a week
Second born in uk in 1969 shaved enema all alone given pethedine was sick was slapped across the face by the midwife for making too much noise stitched, 3 days in given ring to sit on at home Had mastitis
Third born in Uk 1973 (shaved enema, all alone again, assured I was not ready to push and no where near ready to go to labour ward Gave birth in the hospital bed baby nearly shot off the end, no time for pethedine, stitched told off because I didn’t want to breast feed and told I had to while in hospital home after three days
Not very good experiences but I love them all dearly