More Views From Correspondents
I print a further selection of letters from correspondents (two of them are from eminent medical men) on the subject of home versus hospital confinements. Two uphold the views of my last week's writer who stated with much emphasis that home was the only place. The first of these is from the Countess of Iddesleigh, president of the Union of Catholic Mothers, who is more hospital-minded than are the doctors whose letters follow that of the Countess.
Madam,—I have read with deep interest the lively and intensely human letter in favour of a home confinement in this week's issue.
I wish to put in a plea for this very important question, to be viewed with an open mind, Conditions vary to a great extent, and the health and wishes of prospective mothers vary, too. This obvious fact is ignored by those who hold one opinion with no exceptions tolerated.
I put forward the opinion that a woman is wise, whatever her financial status, to have a first child in an atmosphere of quiet and efficient calm such as exists in many of our hospitals and nursing homes.
The first-born child runs a greater risk than subsequent children, and therefore greater precautions should be taken. May I also remind your readers who have had children to remember how much greater is the effect on the nerves of a first birth. So the happy atmosphere of a maternity ward, or the lack of domestic worries at home helps to a much more complete recovery, not only to the body but also to the mind.
Very often a first birth is delayed for a much longer period than later ones— how much more it is to the advantage of the mother to be where this is regarded as normal and no comment or fuss is made.
Madam. I hope this most useful correspondence will not end, but that we shall have many more views put forward.
Need For Forethought
Madam,—My respectful congratulations to the mother who wrote the article "Stay at Home," on your women's page of the 19th inst.
I have been attending mothers of most of the social and financial .groups (except the really rich) for about thirty years, and can picture how shocked I should have been thirty years ago to read this article. At that time there were many mothers who held such views; and I believed it my duty to "educate" them to the "rules" which your contributor decries. I would still petition for a wise caution in two points—the new-born baby in the mother's bed (the death-rate from overlaying has fallen strikingly), and the feeding of the baby at irregular intervals.
It is to be noted that forethought, determination, courage, a spirit of selfsacrifice, and a strong, healthy nervous system and sound mental balance and discipline are called for the more in a mother who elects to remain at home and run her confinement on her own lines in her own home; but given this (and the points indicated above), I am fully in agreement with the writer's views.
I have long held that there was an opportunity for useful service on the lines indicated by the writer and with the very necessary proviso (which she makes) of a Christian charity which shall preclude the helper from criticism.
Case For The Country
Madam,—"Do young mothers prefer hospital to home?"
You invite replies. In my experience so far as rural areas are concerned they do not. They will not go there unless there is some abnormality or morbid condition in connection with the pregnancy which the doctor thinks would be better dealt with in an institution. Even then, it is not always easy to convince them.
I do not think I am wrong in saying it is beyond doubt that the safest place for a woman to be confined in is her own home.
Tragedies occur in the best appointed
hospitals and maternity homes—that is beyond doubt, too. Normal pregnancy is not a disease and should not be regarded as such, but one reads so much trash in the lay press about the dangers of pregnancy that young prospective mothers are frightened out of their wits at the prospect of their confinement coming.
This has done incalculable harm, as every doctor practising midwifery knows only too well. It has made his work infinitely more difficult, because he has this mental dread of labour, as well as the labour itself, to deal with. Amongst a certain class of women it is now fashionable to be in a home, but whether they are safer there is very doubtful, unless, as I have said, there is some condition that could not reasonably be treated in her own home.
I have practised midwifery single-handed in a country district for over forty years and I claim to know something about it. Until about three or four years ago no cases went away from home, and nothing much happened to any of them; and I think I have had to deal with every form of complication during that time.
Have you heard of banana baskets? They make excellent "picnic food," and can be male on the spot.
Just scoop out some of the inside shreds of a Shredded Wheat biscuit, "fork" a ripe banana to a cream, and fill the hollow space. Sprinkle with castor sugar and pour cream or "the top of the milk" round the "basket"—and it is complete.