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CLIP 14341

What was the experience of birth like for the middle class before the National Health Service?

What was the experience of birth like for the middle class before the National Health Service?

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Key Info
  • What was the experience of birth like for the middle class before the National Health Service?
  • Duration: 02:34
  • Unique film of Margaret Smart as a baby in 1935 helps to demonstrate how middle class families used their relative wealth to face the risks of childbirth. The distinction of having a doctor rather than a midwife to deliver a child had prestige. A 'monthly nurse' might stay with the family in the week before the birth and remain for a time to give advice on care and breast-feeding. The career of Margaret's father offers an insight into the aspirations many people had to improve their status in the period. The birth of Margaret is celebrated in her father's 'home movie' but it is also acts as a celebration of middle class security and social success.First broadcast on 'Timeshift' on BBC4 in September 2012.
  • Subject:



    Origins of the Welfare State in the 20th Century

  • Keywords: birth, childhood, health, medicine, doctors, medicine, midwife, medicine through time, class, middle class healthbeforethenhs, NHS, timeshift
Ideas for use in class
  • Younger pupils might view this in the context of learning about life in the 1930s and 1940s. They could learn about this and other aspects of family life though written materials and artefacts. Pupils might be asked to find out how this might compare with their own first weeks but with sensitivity to the backgrounds of the children in your care. They might compare the scenes with a typical experience of birth in the present. Pupils might be asked to consider how useful the contemporary film is for learning about childbirth in the 1930s. Pupils could be asked about the typicality of the context of the Smart's film and what might need to be discovered of working class experiences. There is a strong thread about the importance of class and status throughout the 'home movie' and the commentary and this would be a useful these to exploit in discussion.
Background details
  • Clip language : English
  • Aspect ratio : 16x9

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