Friday, 18 September 2015

Almost time to…Call the Midwife

Project Cataloguing Archivist, Clair, shares a her final blog with us before she goes on maternity leave.

This is my last blog for a while, as well as my last day before I go off on maternity leave! But before I go I thought I would take one last chance to explore some the unique collections that we hold at LHSA, as I will definitely miss being surrounded by all things old when my bundle of all things new arrives!
I could not resist taking a look at the midwifery records that we hold and reading more about the history of the development of maternity provision over the last 200 years in Edinburgh. From the LHSA website and past blogs you can also read further about the establishment of maternity hospitals in the city, as well as their related records that LHSA hold, here.

Edinburgh Royal Maternity Hospital drawing

Mothers and babies on the ward
Briefly, the first planned maternity hospital, Edinburgh Royal Maternity Hospital and Simpson Memorial Maternity Pavilion, opened in 1879 which was the fist purpose-build maternity hospital, where women could have their babies under medical supervision in hospital. Care was also provided from hospital staff for at home deliveries. The Hospital was staffed by physicians as well as midwives and medical students, since the 1886 Amendment to the Medical Act made midwifery a compulsory course in the medical curriculum. By 1910 the Hospital was dealing annually with 616 indoor and 1227 district cases. As the twentieth century progressed efforts were continuing to be made to combat maternal deaths, pregnancy illness such as eclampsia and infant mortality. On 1st March 1939 the old Simpson closed and the Simpson Memorial Maternity Pavilion, which was incorporated into the RIE, assumed responsibility for maternity services. In the new Pavilion the principle of isolation as a means of containing infection was fully implemented and by 1979 the number of beds had increased to 225 while the hazards of childbirth and perinatal mortality had been drastically reduced.

Nursery in the Elsie Ingles Memorial Maternity Hospital, c1930s (LHB8A/9).

Another famous Edinburgh hospital that became responsible for maternity care throughout the twentieth century was the Elsie Ingles Memorial Maternity Hospital. This hospital was set up to commemoration Dr Elise Inglis and her pioneering work for women's medical care as well as her work in setting up the Scottish Women's Hospital units. They provided medical assistance in countries such as France and Serbia during World War One.
The establishment of such hospitals enabled maternity care to improve and develop within Edinburgh but what of those that actually worked in maternity provision and took on the role of midwife? Amongst the gift and deposit collections that we hold at LHSA, we are lucky enough to also have personal collections of those that served in Edinburgh's maternity hospitals. They provide a fascinating insight into midwifery training and education. The following photographs come from GD1/131, the papers of Midwife, Pearl Stacy. She was a student of midwifery at the Simpson Memorial Maternity Pavilion from 1July 1944 to 1July 1945. She went on to have a career in midwifery and health visiting in the London Borough of Richmond until her retirement in 1977.

 This was the Central Midwives Board for Scotland Case Book which Stacy used to record details of patient and child, as well as provide her own review of the case. 1945 (GD1/131/2).
Above is Stacy's workbook which includes beautifully illustrated handwritten lecture notes. These were divided into different parts of her midwifery education, including anatomy, pregnancy, labour, peurperium, baby and mechanisms. 1944-1945 (GD1/131/1).

This is the Central Midwives Board for Scotland Examination Paper. c.1944-1945 (GD1/131/4). The questions examine the student on both medical and ethical decision-making.

Finally, here is Stacy's State Certified Midwife medal engraved with PEW Stacy on reverse.

Over the last year with LHSA, I have had the privilege of exploring and working with different historical collections from many areas of  medicine and health provision. From our HIV/AIDS collections, to Norman Dott's Neurosurgical case notes and to catching a glimpse into personal collections such as the above, I will miss them as much as my lovely colleagues whist on maternity leave!   




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