Document 10: Women's City Club of New York, Preliminary Report to Club Members on the Maternity Center, pamphlet, February 1919, WCCNY Papers, Archives and Special Collections, Hunter College, New York, N.Y. (WCCNY microfilm, reel 20, frame 199).

Introduction

       This pamphlet was distributed to club members in February 1919. It summarized the Center's first year of work and highlighted the work yet to be done. Like most descriptions of the Center, it sought to convince through compelling personal stories as well as statistics.

PRELIMINARY REPORT

TO Club Members

ON THE

MATERNITY CENTER

From its opening September 15, 1917
to October 1, 1918

"THE one thing evident is that there is no
natural necessity for the annual slaughter
of infants in the United States, that it forms a blot upon our civilization which enlightened methods
can--and will--remove."

--Harper's Monthly

 

==================

Women's City Club of New York

February, 1919

SUMMARY OF THE FIRST YEAR'S WORK

THE MATERNITY CENTER is housed in a brownstone dwelling on East 79th Street. The basement is occupied by the janitress and the first floor is used for offices and clinic rooms where continuous day and night service is maintained.

Instead of the 1,000 patients we hoped to reach, over 2,300 came to our doors for help. (The total number by January had passed 3,000.)

Our salaried staff numbers 7--one doctor, three nurses, and three clerical and educational workers.

From 25 to 30 additional nurses, as well as practically every agency of the district which touches maternity work, including the leading hospitals, are cooperating.

Mothers made over 1,700 visits to the Center for doctors' and nurses' clinics and for general advice. (No fewer than 62 mothers with first babies came to our weekly demonstration class in baby care begun a few weeks ago.) Our own nurses made over 1,900 visits into homes of patients.

Since June our two part-time "working housekeepers" have both spent from one to 40 days in 16 different homes of confined mothers with little children.

Two sub-stations for doctors' clinics have been established.

Our record system as perfected has been adopted by practically all of the maternity agencies in the city.

SEVENTEEN cities in the United States and Canada have sent 24 nurses and visitors to the Center to learn of our work.

THIS YEAR'S NEEDS

The nursing service must be extended until we have reached the 7,000 births occurring in this district every year.

A new sub-station, open all day, is needed immediately for the upper section of our district, which is almost barren of any form of social help.

Four additional clinics should be opened so that mothers may more easily reach us, and that closer relationships may be established with various nationalities.

The working-housekeeper service should be enlarged to meet the need in homes where the mother must go to the hospital, or where there is no one to care for the mother, new-born baby and other small children.

Educational work must be extended to induce mothers to come to us early in pregnancy, and to teach them the proper care of themselves and babies.

Classes for demonstrations of baby care should be increased in number.

We need more help in the study and analysis of our records and statistics.

The results of our work from month to month should be the light to guide our future activities.

"The present is truly a most opportune time to
initiate an intensive prenatal campaign. Our aim
should be to furnish every mother during pregnancy
with intelligent oversight; to keep her from commercial
exploitation and to render childbirth reasonably safe."

Dr. Ralph Waldo Lobenstein

 

IN THE DAY'S WORK

SAVING A PREMATURE BABY

On May 22nd Mrs. G.'s baby was born two months before time, weighing only four pounds. Her husband was in the army but she had received no allotment, so she embroidered night-gowns all day, receiving only $5 a week. The Center nurse found the baby sick, the mother greatly worried without sufficient milk properly to nurse the child. She was receiving only $5 a week from the Red Cross although the price of board had gone up to $6. At time of delivery a midwife and doctor were called, which left a debt of $37. The doctor had given no instructions as to the care of the baby except that it be nursed every two hours, which was impossible due to the mother's physical condition. In the meantime the baby had lost--until it weighed only two pounds.

For a time it seemed as though the little life could not be saved, but the Center provided special milk for the baby, and cereal and other foods for the mother. The nurses taught the mother how to care for the baby, secured a competent doctor to advise for both mother and baby, and gradually improvement took place. An urgent appeal was made to the Red Cross for more nearly adequate care which was finally granted. The nurses continued their visits and now both mother and baby are well--the boy at the age of six months weighing eleven pounds.

WHERE A "WORKING HOUSEKEEPER" WAS NEEDED

One of our volunteer "follow up" workers, while visiting a former patent whom our nurses had cared for until her baby was a month old, found the woman badly in need of help. The father was an unskilled worker earning a meager wage. There were six children, the eldest being but eight years old. The mother was completely worn out with the care of the children and had lost her courage to "take hold." The house was in bad condition and the baby and other children were ill kept and sickly. A "working housekeeper" was seriously needed, and the Center provided a woman who stayed for several days putting the home in order and giving the mother rest and instruction so that she could again take better care of her family.

A BADLY-FED BABY

One afternoon a distracted soldier came to the Center asking that someone go see his sick baby. A nurse visited the home and found the baby gasping for breath, with a temperature of 102 and a severe case of bronchitis and indigestion. In order to get along on her military allotment of $30 a month the mother had been living with her parents who did not like to hear the baby cry and insisted on its being rocked most of the time. The baby was also badly overfed. The nurse took immediate charge, called in one of our consulting physicians, and visited it every day, staying until 11 o'clock several nights. She secured the cooperation of the family, taught the mother to feed the baby from the breast only every 3 hours, to give it nothing between meals, and to let it lie quietly between feedings. This treatment was successful and to-day the bay is well and the family exceedingly grateful to the Center.

CONVULSIONS

One of our nurses was called to see Mrs. H. only when the baby was momentarily expected. The nurse, finding the patient in convulsions, reported to her private doctor who immediately recommended hospital "A". He asked the mother of the patient to take her there at once while he went on ahead to make arrangements. A taxi was called and while driving to the hospital the patient had three convulsions and became unconscious. At the hospital there was no room for her and the doctor had gone, leaving no instructions. The taxi driver was appealed to and suggested hospital "B". On arriving there with the patient still unconscious, they learned that this hospital had no maternity ward. They were then referred to Manhattan Maternity Hospital where the patient was finally taken in and cared for. Good luck was with the mother, for she survived and the baby was born alive. The presence of conditions causing convulsions is seldom known to the patient but can easily be detected by the nurse, and had the private doctor referred this patient to the Center for prenatal care the patient might have been saved such terrible suffering and impairment of health.

WHAT HAPPENS TO BABIES

Over 12,000 babies under one year died in New York City last year. Over one-third of these died during the first month of life. In the United States registration area over one-fifth of the infant deaths occurred within 48 hours after birth.

WAGE EARNERS' BABIES SUFFER MOST

When father's wage is $450 or less, 168 babies out of every 1000 die.
When father's wage is $650-$850, 110 babies out of every 1000 die.
When father's wage is $1,250 or over, 64 babies out of 1000 die.

WHAT HAPPENS TO MOTHERS

At least 20,000 mothers in this country die every year from causes connected with childbirth--more than from any other one cause except tuberculosis.
Many more mothers live but suffer lifelong impairment of health.
About 700 mothers die in New York City every year from puerperal diseases alone--diseases science has shown to be almost entirely preventable.

 

In NEW ZEALAND only 51 babies die whereas
124 die in AMERICA.
In SWEDEN only 2 mothers die whereas 5
die in AMERICA.

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