Pregnancy and parenting advice from the 1970s

70s parenting advice books for mothers

Ever wondered what it was like to be pregnant in the seventies – or how much things have changed for expectant mothers between generations? We've got some of the most – ahem – retro examples of advice from that era.

One poster came to Mumsnet with a request: “I'm pregnant and my mum is no longer with us, so I'm going to miss out on hearing about her own pregnancy with me,” she explained. “I'd like to hear what advice was given to pregnant women in 1978/79.” The responses flooded in…

What was it like to be pregnant in the 70s?

pregnant woman in 1970s black and white photo

“I was born in 1980 so my mum would have been pregnant in '79. She feels they were either kept in the dark about many of the facts around pregnancy or much less was understood in general back then. She has been fascinated by all the things we know nowadays, such as the stages of development inside the womb, how big the baby is compared to a vegetable etc. I invited her to the 4D scan and she thought it was incredible. I guess we just take that kind of thing for granted.”

“My mum was 32 when she had me in 1976. On her maternity notes it said 'geriatric mother'.”

guinness signs 1970s retro

“My mum was pregnant with me in 1977. She had low iron levels in the third trimester and the doctor advised half a pint of stout a day!”

“I was born in '79 and my mum swears her doctor told her not to give up smoking when she was pregnant, as it would keep her stress levels down.”

Giving birth in the 1970s

newborn babies in hospital maternity ward

“I had my third baby in 1979 – the first two were '74 and '77. After the shave/enema nonsense of the first birth, I hung around at home until it was too late for them to be given. The midwife at my second birth actually told me off ('you're so far along I can't give you an enema!') – oh, how terribly disappointing! No-one ever asked your permission to do anything – you had internal examinations without explanation, and they looked aghast when you asked how dilated you were. It wasn't your business.”

“I was born in '77 and have a picture of my mum breastfeeding me in hospital with a cigarette burning in the ashtray next to her. You could smoke on the postnatal ward!”

Bringing up baby – then vs now

retro photo of child in 1970s

“My brother was put in a carry cot on the back seat, often left in the car with the windows down if he'd fallen asleep, and also pushed out of the front door in his pram and left 'for fresh air'.”

“I was born in '81. I was taken away for overnights so my mum could rest (she doesn't know what/if I was fed during that time).”

70s mother and baby old family photo

“My sister was born in '78; my mum was advised to put whiskey in her bottle to make her sleep better.”

“My mother tells me the advice when my sister was born ('69) was to feed the baby on watered-down condensed milk.”