Abstract

Abstract:

In January 1902, the rebuilt Lying-In Hospital of the City of New York received its first patient. The new hospital arrived at a moment of transition at several interlocking registers: new theorizations of vanguard hospital design; increasing medical specialization and professionalization; burgeoning awareness of germ theory and antiseptic procedures; and changing understandings of pregnancy, labor, childbirth, and postnatal care. The 1902 hospital sits at the nexus of these intersecting cultural threads. This article centers the 1902 Lying-In Hospital as a productive site for understanding changing conceptions of pregnancy and birthing in turn-of-the-century New York City and beyond. Through close study of the planning, construction, and operation of the hospital, it demonstrates that the building's plan made manifest physicians' efforts to professionalize obstetrics, articulate discrete stages of childbirth, and prevent midwives from practicing, emphasizing physicians' racialized and ethnicized thinking about the birthing practices of migrant women. These theoretical solutions for physicians, however, simultaneously transformed patients' understandings of pregnancy and birthing through the experiential space of the reorganized hospital. Unlike birthing in the home—wherein labor, delivery, and recovery all took place within a singular room—the hospital physically and temporally segregated labor, delivery, and postnatal care, contributing to the medicalization of childbirth.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-6832
Print ISSN
1936-0886
Pages
pp. 33-66
Launched on MUSE
2022-08-04
Open Access
No
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