Hospital - Childbirth History

Having a baby in a hospital didn't become the norm until the early 1900s. Before that time women typically had their babies at home attended to by midwives. During the Industrial Age cramped and dirty living quarters in lower and sometimes middle classes made it harder for women to give birth at home so the first lying-in hospitals were built. Affluent women continued to have their babies at home.

By the 1920s advances in medical technology allowed women to give birth in a hospital without remembering any of the pain of labor. An amnesic state was created through the use of morphine and scopolamine and this semi-conscious state eventually became known as Twilight Sleep. The popularity of Twilight Sleep and the promotion that hospitals were the safest most sanitary places to give birth led to the majority of babies being born in hospitals by the end of the 1930s. Today most women give birth in a hospital in developed countries with some countries professional obstetric organizations actively discouraged home births.

The History of Hospitals

A hospital is an institution that provides health care by specialized staff and equipment. In the developed world hospitals can be for profit or non-profit. They can be funded by health insurance companies, charitable donations or charities. Modern hospitals are staffed by educated nurses, surgeons and physicians. Historically hospitals were founded, funded and run by religious orders and volunteers. The Ranking Web of World Hospitals says that there are more than 17,000 hospitals in the world, but not all of them have labor and delivery wards.

Hospitals have a place in ancient history even though they weren't connected with childbirth. The ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians had temples dedicated to the healer gods of their cultures. Often these temples had special spaces for healing where the ill took herbs to induce a sleep-like state that could be compared to modern anesthesia. Curing occurred through guidance of the deity or sometimes surgery.

Early Romans are thought to have created buildings to care for sick and wounded slaves, soldiers and gladiators around 100 BC, but there is some disagreement among historians about how wide spread and common these were. The First Council of Nicaea (a meeting of Christian bishops) in 325 AD ordered that a hospital be build in every town with a cathedral or church. Sometimes hospitals were attached to monasteries and these hospitals also provided lodging for travelers or the poor. Many had separate sections for lepers

By the mid-1800s most of North America and Europe had various public and private hospital systems. In 1914 one of the developed world's first maternity (baby) hospitals for all income classes was opened in Boston. By the 1940s a hospital birth was considered to be ideal.

Modern Hospital Births

Today the majority of women in most developed countries choose, and are encouraged to choose, to have their babies in hospitals. Having a child in a hospital requires some planning and it's important to make sure you have a pregnancy hospital packing list to make sure you'll have everything you need during labor, delivery and after the baby is born.

You'll be provided with one or more pregnancy hospital gowns to wear even after you've delivered the baby. But you may want to bring your own sleepwear for your personal comfort. Your own sleepwear is low on the pregnancy hospital checklist of crucial items, but it can make you feel cleaner and overall better according to birthing stories of experienced moms. Essentials include pads, an outfit to bring baby home in, baby car seat, toiletries, admission forms or registration papers and your insurance card. Labor aids like music, aromatherapy, clips/hair bands, massage lotion or a tennis ball as a massage aid are also a good idea. Many new mother's like to get a picture of their brand-new babies so a camera is also a good idea. Other suggestions for things to take to the hospital include snacks for your partner, reading material, receiving blanket, laxatives, disposable underwear or your own pillow.


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