In 1924 the Dominion of Canada’s Department of Health published a handbook for Canadian mothers, The Canadian Mother’s Book, that provides one with an interesting look at practices of the past. The first page of the book is a quotation from Scripture: “He called a little child to Him and set him in the midst.” and this is followed by a Dedication.
This book has been written for you — a Canadian Mother. The Government of Canada, knowing that the nation is made of homes, and that the homes are made by the Father and Mother, recognizes you as one of the Makers of Canada. No National Service is greater or better than the work of the Mother in her own home. The Mother is “The First Servant of the State.”
Chapter III, entitled Things that the Mother and the Baby Need includes sections such as:
For the Mother’s Bed.
- Mattress and springs, single bed.
- The bed should be high; raised on blocks if necessary. Height 24 to 26 inches.
- Two underlays, size 54 by 54 inches. These may be made of rubber sheeting or white table oilcloth, or packing paper, which is brown paper lined with waterproof muslin. Or, instead of an underlay, make four “bed-pads” half the size of the bed. Open out six newspaper sheets, cover with freshly laundered old linen, or muslin or sterilized cheesecloth, and tack like a quilt. This makes a good bed pad.
- Sheets, two pairs.
- Blankets, one pair.
- Bedspread, one, washable.
- The mother’s room should be bright, sunny, clean and simply furnished, with no hangings or upholstered furniture. It should be near the bathroom and if possible there should be a little room adjacent for the baby and the nurse.
For Use of the Doctor and Nurse.
- Pitchers, two.
- Basins, three.
- Slop-jar, one.
- Soap, white Castile, 2 pieces.
- Nail-brush (new) one.
- Vaseline, white, one tube.
- Safety-pins, two dozen, large and small.
- Cotton batting, two rolls.
- Absorbent cotton, one pound.
- Sanitary napkins or pads, sterilized, one dozen.
- Abdominal binder, two yds. unbleached cotton, 18 inches wide.
- Muslin, or old linen, or old sheets, sterilized, three yards.
- Towels, old, soft, one dozen.
- Tape, narrow “bobbin-tape” to tie the cord, one piece.
- A bed-pan, a not-water bottle and a two-quart fountain syringe (if not too expensive).
Later in the book there is section entitled:
Take Care of the Mother.
The mother should not leave her bed for about ten days, should not leave her room for about three or four weeks, and should do very little work at all until the baby is at least six weeks old.
Source: MacMurchy M.D., (TOR.), Helen. The Canadian Mother’s Book. Ottawa, ON: F. A. Acland, 1924.
HAPPY MOTHERS’ DAY to all of our wonderful “Makers of Canada,” our “First Servant[s] of the State.”
Wow! How different now.