1970s maternity ward instructions for new moms shock Reddit users: ‘This is crazy’

A Reddit mom uploaded a page from a hospital manual given to new moms in the 1970s — and now, the vintage instructions are going viral.

Posted to the subreddit r/Mommit, the post quickly gained over 600 upvotes and nearly 200 comments — most of which expressed shock at the way maternity wards used to be run.

While modern hospital experiences aren’t always perfect — as this TikTok mom revealed when she told the story of being brought the wrong baby not once, but twice — this Reddit post proves we’ve come a long way since the ’70s.

Courtesy of Reddit u/princess_o_darkness

Reddit users were shocked by what they read in the excerpt:

“Unless your baby requires incubator care, your baby will be brought to you to feed at approximately 5:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 1:20 p.m., 5:40 p.m., and 9:30 p.m.

“If your baby is 6 lbs. or under … you will feed approximately every three hours — 6:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 9:30 p.m.

“Both breast and bottle fed babies will be brought to you for feeding approximately six hours after birth. We ask your co-operation in preparing for the feeding hours:

“a) Turn your television off — your baby needs all your attention.
b) Complete any phone calls.
c) Put cigarette out.
d) Wash your hands.
e) Make yourself as comfortable as possible in your bed or chair and be prepared to receive your baby at the times mentioned above.
f) At each feeding when receiving your baby, please state your name to the nurse who brings your baby.

“Insist that the nurse checks your wrist band against the name on the baby’s band.”

According to the National Child Development Study, a 1958 study showed that babies whose mothers had smoked during pregnancy tended to weigh less at birth than babies whose mothers had not smoked. This finding prompted the NCDS to question mothers’ smoking habits in a birth survey, which led to some of the study’s most influential discoveries.

“[Those] findings … were enough to prompt the Health Education Council to launch a public health campaign in the 1970s to stop pregnant women smoking,” the NCDS states. “The findings also encouraged doctors to change the advice they were giving to their patients. Over time, the number of pregnant women who smoke has dropped from 39 per cent to 12 per cent.”

‘Can you imagine how these hospitals smelled???’

Reddit users expressed their shock at the 1970s instructions in the comments.

“It’s not even like, IF you have a cigarette, they’re just assuming you are lighting up constantly … this is crazy, lol,” one user wrote.

“Just picturing all these nicotine-stained nursery wards with a thick cloud of smoke hanging above. Like one of those ‘smokers’ fishbowls’ at the airport,” another user commented.

“Omg. Can you imagine how these hospitals smelled???” one user asked.

“My mom told me she went to the hallway to smoke after she had me. This was in 1985,” shared a user.

“My Mom had a c-section with my older brother (’87) and she didn’t want to get out of the bed… so the nurse said ‘I’ll let you out the staff door to smoke if you get up’ and sure enough Mom dragged her IV pole outside,” shared another user.

“My MIL got a cigarette from the doctor right after she had my husband. They smoked in the delivery room lol. She proudly tells people she smoked while she was pregnant with her kids to have smaller babies to give birth to. Yeah, I was speechless,” wrote one user.

“Lord have mercy, truly this probably what is wrong with me… born in 1973 lol,” another user laughed.

Today, the Surgeon General clearly states on all cigarette packages, “SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Smoking by Pregnant Women May Result in Fetal Injury, Premature Birth, and Low Birth Weight.”

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