My hospital experience

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    I did not live in a home for unmarried mothers during my pregnancy. In fact, I was unaware that such homes existed until many years later. I was determined to finish my university degree and so I continued with my life as I awaited the birth of my child. I attended the maternity hospital during my pregnancy for occasional medical appointments, but was not allowed to attend the classes which prepared mothers for birth and motherhood, because I was unmarried. I was directed to see the hospital almoner, but when I told her that the church was arranging a private adoption, there seemed no further need for her involvement. I arrived at the hospital, in labour, in the early hours of the morning and was left alone in a dark ward throughout the night. No one attended me or checked on my well-being until the morning. I was not offered analgesics during labour. It was a difficult birth and my son was born with the aid of forceps. When he was born, he was handed to me briefly and then taken to the nursery. I was moved to a large maternity ward, which contained approximately forty beds. The hospital policy was that babies were beside mothers’ beds constantly and fed on demand. I was the only mother whose baby was not by the bed. I visited him in the nursery once, but when the doctor found me there, he instructed the nursing staff that I was not to be allowed to visit again. My breasts were bound to prevent the production of breast milk. When I cried at the thought of being separated from my child, I was sedated. I signed myself out of hospital against the doctor’s advice, as I did not want to miss my final examinations.


    There have been enormous changes in attitudes since 1970 and there is now much more acceptance of single parent families.