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Calling much older mums/midwifes from bygone times - curious

(32 Posts)
Pagan Tue 22-Feb-05 13:59:59

My Mum says that in her day (she's in her 70s), there were strict feeding times at maternity hospitals, I think 10am, 2pm and 6pm. Not sure what happened at night but all the babies were kept in the one room away from their mothers.

I was wondering what on earth happened when they were not being fed. Surely no baby was perfect enough to want to feed at exactly those times and what DID happen during the night? Who fed them then? Were the poor wee things just left to bawl until the next feeding time?

I'm just curious to know

Lonelymum Tue 22-Feb-05 14:03:20

My mother (same age as yours) says the same. She also said they were left to vry but that they soon adapted to the feeding times and didn't cry for long. Believe that if you will. I don't know what to think. I must admit, my mum seemed to do a better job with my kids than I ever did so maybe routine is everything.

Pagan Tue 22-Feb-05 14:08:54

Perhaps all staff and patients were supplied with earplugs but it does seem a tad cruel.

My Mum does make comments that I shouldn't nurse DS too much as I'll smother him (he was 4 days old and I'd just picked him up to feed him). She's still a bit bemused by breastfeeding as all her contemporaries bottle fed - and apparently another horific practice was to have your boobs bandaged tightly to stop you producing milk!!! FFS!!

PrettyCandles Tue 22-Feb-05 14:10:41

The babies were in a night-nursery and were either brought to the mum to feed at 2am (my mum's experience with us) or given a bottle.

moondog Tue 22-Feb-05 14:14:22

They used to give you an injection to stop the milk if you were bottle feeding. My mother remembers the woman in the next bed being given one-by accident!! She had wanted to breastfeed but then couldn't.
Can you imagine the hooha that would cause these days!

Lonelymum Tue 22-Feb-05 14:15:16

Ooh haven't heard about the bandaging of boobs before. Makes you wince doesn't it?

My understanding about the babies is that they were in a separate nursery so the mothers wouldn't have heard their babies crying (although my mother tells a story about how she heard my sister (her first baby) crying and asked for her to be brought to her. The m/w said "don't be silly, how can you know that is your baby you hear?" but it was!)

I will probably be shouted down for saying this, but I must admit, after labour and a bonding cuddle, I very much wanted my baby to be taken away and cared for by a professional so I could get a decent sleep. With my second baby, I achieved this by insisting the m/w gave him a bottle even though I was breastfeeding (I was the only mother on the mat ward so I felt I could demand that from them.) It does make a world of difference if you are allowed one full night's sleep.

moondog Tue 22-Feb-05 14:17:42

Lm, even though I b/fed b/feed, with both I demanded they take them away for the night. Didn't want ANYTHING to do with them for the first few hours, I really didn't.
(Unfortunately, they wouldn't shut up and were brought back for me to calm down.

Pagan Tue 22-Feb-05 14:22:07

Have to agree that whilst it's a bit archaic, the thought of at least one night's uninterupted sleep does sound wonderful, especially after labour and uncomfortable nights beforehand.

Lonelymum Tue 22-Feb-05 14:22:28

My last baby was contently sleeping his first night and both he and I were woken by a m/w at about 3 am because they were worried he hadn't fed for a while. Bloody hell! He was so sleepy, I couldn't get him to feed so they let me put him down again and then asked me to express some milk! I tried for half and hour but couldn't get anything out. At about 6 am, they insisted I woke him up again and tried feeding him again and this time he fed OK but by the time he had finished, the hospital day had started. They even took some blood from him to check his sugar levels or somthing similar and he was twice the borderline danger level (ie nowhere near the danger level IYSWIM). I know they are only doing their job, but is it any wonder we want to go home as soon as possible?! In some ways, I do like the sound of the old methods.

Pagan Tue 22-Feb-05 14:26:39

Yup the midwife called in on me at 6am to check that DS was getting another feed (he hadn't stopped all night). In fact I was soooo tired that I started shivering uncontrollably and had to ask for another duvet even though the room was warm. I also got a hottie thing which heats up in the microwave - no offers of taking him away for an hour though to allow me some kip. Best of it was that come 8am, sodding builders outside the window started hammering and drilling so still managed no kip.

wilbur Tue 22-Feb-05 14:29:21

My aunt was a midwife - she's 76 and qualified around 1950. She did most of her delivieries at home (she encouraged women to deliver lying on their left-hand sides) and said that no feeding routines were ever imposed by her, more because women had more extended support from family than down to any demand feeding ideas. She said the 4 hrly feeds in hosp were simply to make things easier on the staff, although there was a lot of child care info at the time that said you should not "spoil" your baby by feeding them all the time. Apparently, after the ten days (!) in hosp after delivery, many women found their milk dried up when they got home and tried to follow the 4 hrly thing. Not enough stimulation on the boobies, obviously!

lisalisa Tue 22-Feb-05 14:30:23

Message withdrawn

Lonelymum Tue 22-Feb-05 14:31:52

Sounds like you were at home? It is no better in a hopsital. Just when you get your baby to sleep and manage to feel sleepy yourself, someone else's baby starts up! Also, I could tell stories of m/ws playing the radio through the night and talking to each other and other mums in a normal speaking voice instead of whispering. It is a great policy if they are trying to get rid of mums who don't need to be there!

That was another thing about the old days: my mother said all mums stayed in hospital for 10 days. Now that would drive me potty!

Bozza Tue 22-Feb-05 14:34:32

My Mum says the babies were kept in a nursery and brought through for feeding but never mentioned a schedule. She was in hospital for 8 days with me in 1973. However I know that at home she fed on demand.

Lonelymum Tue 22-Feb-05 14:35:32

Sorry my sounds like you were at home comment was for Pagan.

Lisalisa, how lucky you were to be able to have that private treatment. I am champing at the bit here because I had my four in NHS hospitals and I have so many stories I could tell! Though I don't want to knock the NHS as it has served me well. Just I hate being dumped with a baby and told to get on with it when I will have to get on with it for the next 18 years and feel it wouldn't hurt the baby to spend one night in professional hands.

Pagan Tue 22-Feb-05 14:35:44

LM - I was in the hospital. I had a lovely room with a window that opened and a fantastic view of Glasgow's leafy west end. That was the good bit but on the down side I have to say that I was quite lonely. I was only in 2 days but because it was so quiet all mothers had a room to themselves so I had no-one to talk to. DH could come in as much as he had the first time round as he had DD to look after.

Pagan Tue 22-Feb-05 14:37:28

Oops meant to say DH couldn't come in as much as before.

The staff were all lovely and wonderful but a full night's sleep would have been bliss.

tiktok Tue 22-Feb-05 14:37:47

It was partly those blinking maternity hospital routines that almost led to breastfeeding being wiped out in the UK - I am not kidding. Feeding to a schedule and sometimes not at night (babies were given formula routinely if they kept screaming) for the sometimes 10-14 days women were in hospital after the birth led to dreadful engorgement, poor milk supply, poor weight gain (leading to more bottles) and a lack of faith that breastfeeding could 'work'....so fewer and fewer mothers even started breastfeeding, as the whole experience was so dismal. By the beginning of the 1970s, only a small number of women (I think something like 24 per cent) started bf.

Of course mothers need rest - this is best done by having the baby close to you, and if you are undrugged and not too fatigued, in bed with you. It should be mother's choice to not do this, though, if she doesn't want to - but someone should tell her that separation of mothers and babies at night is associated with lower breastfeeding success. There are ways of caring properly for mothers that mean they are supported through the broken nights, and helped to get what rest they can.

The old days were very, very bad at supporting mothers and supporting bf.

Pagan Tue 22-Feb-05 14:44:18

Tiktok - that ties in with recent reports that the growth charts used are out of date and incorrect as they are based on formula fed babies rather than bf ones.

Eowyn Tue 22-Feb-05 14:52:07

my mum was given pills I think to dry up her milk (1968) - have since heard they can cause cancer.

alexsmum Tue 22-Feb-05 14:56:39

when my mum had my sister in 1961, she went to a nursing home, was in for 10 days.everybody breastfed, and their stomach's were bound to help the uterus contract down.If the baby woke when the mum was asleep they were given a bottle of sugar and water.she was shaved and given an enema.
She was left to labour alone and told not to make a noise and disturb the other women! Sounds pretty horrific!!!

when i was born in 1972, she was given pethidine without her consent because 'it would make her feel better'.

gingerbear Tue 22-Feb-05 14:58:54

my mum had her breasts bound to dry up her milk! my sister was bottle fed since mum was told that she couldn't breastfeed after having a caesarian (1968). She has a huge vertical scar on her tummy too and it took her months to recover, not weeks.

I had DD by caesarian, and she stayed in the room with me, except for one night when I was crying from being tired, in pain and unable to hold her to get her to sleep, an angel of a midwife came and took her from me for 4 blissful hours.

jessicasmummy Tue 22-Feb-05 15:00:36

my grandmother said when dd was born that she was in hospital for 14 days and was not allowed to leave the bed. The midwives insisted on new mothers staying in bed for that amount of time and woe betide anyone that tried to defy them! For me, I had jessica at 2.49am, fed her myself with no help whatsoever and was carted round to the ward, told to try and sleep - well by the time i got there it was 5.30am and all the other mums and babies were starting to wake. I was in the bath by 6.30am, and was told just to leave my baby at my bedside and they would "listen out" for her, after a seriously rushed bath because i was so worried about her, i got back to my bed, got dressed and sat and watched telly while dd slept. DH turned up at 11am and they discharged me at 3pm no questions asked. dd hadnt had a feed since she was first born!

tiktok Tue 22-Feb-05 15:09:08

Pagan, the current charts are based on a mix of data sets, fairly recent, and the babies used will have been a mix, too. It's only beyond six months that the charts in current use are seriously out for bf babies - the ones clinics use at present are ok for younger babies, though they don't show the slight flattening of the breastfed baby's weight at about three to four months.

The real problem with charts is that they are not used/interpreted properly for individual babies.

moondog Tue 22-Feb-05 16:00:54

My aunt fed her kids evaporated milk (60s and 70s0 after b/feeding for a few months.
Said everyone did!

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