I was flipping through the channels just now and came across an episode of "Marcus Welby, MD". This show is a time capsule of stuff that happened in the 1970's when I went to school. Get a load of those caps and white uniforms! Of course, the nursing stereotypes were pretty extreme.
I can't say as though all of this was the norm because I trained at a pretty progressive teaching hospital. Well, marginally more progressive than most I guess. "Natural childbirth" was hip in 1975, and fathers were part of the birth team functioning as the labor coach. But, only if the couple was married; no "baby daddies" allowed at that time.
This episode took place in 1975 and featured Gena Rowlands as a 36 year old professional woman, busy, successful and having it all except a baby; she had been struggling with infertility for years. In real life she was probably 45 and looked it.
Upon declaring her about four weeks pregnant, the mother-to-be phones up the husband to tell him the ecstatic news. The proud papa rushes over to old Marc's office with champagne, whereupon ALL THE DOCTORS, NURSES, HUSBAND AND PREGNANT WOMAN COMMENCE TO DRINK. Yikes.
A group of pregnant women, Marcus Welby's nurse and a couple of nursing students take a tour of the "Maternity Ward". First they get a look at the labor room, where "a nurse will help you time your contractions for the first stage of labor". Guess L&D nurses didn't have much to do in those days, at least until it was time for delivery.
Next, the group of scared looking women, clad in white OR gowns and caps moves on to the delivery room "where you will be moved for your second phase of labor". Scary damn place. "This is the table where you'll bring your child into the world!" Nurse Lopez says brightly
"Where do we first get to see our baby, Miss Lopez?", asks a scared primip.
Nurse Lopez looks strained, takes a breath and says, "Well, maybe in here Susan...if you're awake in time. You may be just under a local anesthetic if there are no complications. Then, you'll hear your baby's very first cry right in here". Camera pans to incubator, OR green-covered equipment, stirrups and scary shit as the young mother looks terrified. "Something to look forward to, isn't it?", Nurse Lopez asks gently and unconvincingly. The group is ushered out, no doubt to view other medieval implements of torture.
The rest of the show is pretty crayzee, but I don't have time to see it. I'll DVR it for later.