Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Be Grateful That You Didn't Give Birth In 1906

Another day of finding lost treasure! Yesterday I found my maternal grandmother’s cookbooks circa 1930s – today I found my paternal grandmother’s nursing textbook circa 1906. I was particularly interested in the obstetrics section.

In Obstetrics the nurse is instructed that when she is called to assist at a confinement she must make sure the patient is ready and everything has been prepared for reception of the child. There must be five basins of sterilized hot and cold water, preferably china or granite-wear, all sorts of acids for sterilizing people and stuff, sterilized towels, sterilized sheet, sterilized bobbin (for tying cord), a large square of linen or muslin, blunt scissors, ice and a douche-pan . The labor bed should have a hair mattress which is protected by a rubber sheet.

The nurse should prepare the patient by giving her a thorough bath, an enema, catheterizing her if she can not void and, after all that is done , she should braid the patient’s hair.

The directions for vaginal examinations during labor were very detailed, with the admonition that dilation could be determined almost as accurately by “the character of the cry to which the patient gives expression”.

After childbirth, the patient should stay in bed for at least ten days. Nurses were warned the onset of insanity usually in the form of melancholia was not uncommon and was treated by removing the child and also any pictures or furniture that seem to disturb the patient. Nurse should keep patient quiet without the use of force and ensure regular evacuation of bladder and rectum.

It reads like a torture manual – how did the population ever grow??

Tomorrow should I discuss “care of the dead” from the nursing book or “how long to hang an elk roast” from the cookbooks?

I have discovered a cornucopia of useless and sometimes disturbing information – I’m loving it!!!

1 comment:

  1. i find it very interesting that in all the years we have lived to be older due to the medical advances. even though it sounds horrific from back then its still quite amazing to be able to read how the nurses even did it and still had to be strong.. keep posting what you find. I do quite truly enjoy it . It reminds me of my papaows time when he was born in 1919 and love his soul hes been dead since 1997.
    from one of your readers :)
    tonya cinnamon