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Lucy Baldwin and Maternity Health

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Lucy Baldwin and Maternity Health


"Hi! My name is Kirsty Earley from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow and today I want to talk to you about Lucy Baldwin. Now, Lucy Baldwin was a countess, writer, and activist for maternity healthcare during the first part of the 20th century.

During this time, if a woman was pregnant she had to pay for the healthcare that she received during labour and childbirth- so, things like attending to the birth of her child, but also pain relief during labour. As you can imagine, not every woman could afford this and some women had to work up until the day of their child's birth and thereafter.

Now, Lucy was the wife of Stanley Baldwin, who was prime minister on three separate occasions. She had seven children of her own and each labour was very difficult for her, so she was very passionate about equality for women with regards to maternity healthcare especially pain relief during labour. She used her position in society to help campaign for women's rights during childbirth and started raising funds.

What does this have to do with Glasgow? Well, her husband Stanley was the rector of the University of Glasgow so she had connections there, but she also had connections to some hospitals in Glasgow and through her fundraising and her campaign work she was able to help employ the first anaesthetists at the Glasgow Royal Maternity Hospital, better known as Rottenrow.

She did such amazing work for maternity healthcare that an apparatus was named after her, the Lucy Baldwin Gas-Oxygen Analgesia Apparatus, part of which we have in our museum collection. Now, this apparatus was to be used by women during labour and it would sit at their bedside so they could self-administer gas to reduce the pain.

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