Stan Wayman/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images These 50 Vintage Maternity Ward Photos Prove That Motherhood Is Timeless
And that hospital rooms used to look
When I'm in a crummy mood, staring at sweet photos of babies can change everything. Even better when those photos are of happy moms snuggling precious newborns. Because while motherhood has changed through the ages, these
vintage maternity ward photos of moms and their newborns prove that the first moment a mom meets her baby is forever timeless.
Seeing the love in these mothers' faces puts my frustration with my kindergartener into perspective as he neglects to eat at least
one dang vegetable at dinnertime for the millionth time. The photos remind me that I too once stared adoringly at this same baby's scrunched up newborn face just moments after he was pulled from my open abdomen. Despite laying on a cold, hard operating table, I was absolutely smitten and nothing could wipe the smile off of my face.
That same beaming expression of pride is seen throughout this selection of nostalgic photos from years ago. Although so many things have changed with time, much has also stayed the same, and these pictures prove it. Take a look at these 25 vintage maternity ward photos to see for yourself just how sweet these pictures of moms and their babies are.
Graphic House/Archive Photos/Getty Images
When my babies were born, I stared at them in absolute awe
all of the time — even as they slept. As tired as I was, I just couldn't take my eyes off of them. This gorgeous mom did the exact same thing with her newborn back in 1945. Stan Wayman/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
In July 1958, this mom got her very first look at her newborn immediately after delivery. This view is all too familiar for moms, and just looking at this vintage photo takes me right back to the first time I laid eyes on my sons.
Richard PHELPS/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images
Not every new mom will receive an excessive amount of floral arrangements like the mom in this vintage maternity ward photo from France did, but most moms will spend plenty of time snuggling their new babe in their hospital bed. Doing that surrounded by pretty flowers just makes those already glorious moments feel a bit brighter.
Timeless actor Julie Andrews gave birth to her daughter in 1962, shortly before beginning production for her breakout film role in
Mary Poppins. This photo captures a family moment sweeter than a spoonful of sugar as husband, stage designer Tony Walton, takes a photo of his wife and newborn daughter. Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix/Getty Images
The pride beaming from this new mom's face as she holds her newborn truly shines through the pure exhaustion she must have felt in this post-birth moment. Endless diaper changes and around-the-clock feeds can wreak havoc on a mom's sleep schedule, but it is all
so worth it. Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix/Getty Images
Scottish actress Elspet Gray, best known for her role in
Four Weddings and a Funeral, gave birth to her second baby at the Princess Beatrice Hospital in 1958. Just like so many moms, she introduced her 3-year-old daughter to her new brother right in her hospital bed. Denver Post/Denver Post/Getty Images
Notice the Christmas-themed snowman blanket? This photo was taken on Christmas Day 1968 of a proud mom in a Denver hospital with her baby born just four days prior. Even in the '60s, some moms were all about holiday-themed accessories for their newborns. She would undoubtedly love all of the Pinterest-worthy baby blankets available today.
This vintage maternity ward photo from 1975 almost looks like a selfie a mom might take with her baby today. I wonder what her hashtag would have been? Would she have gone with something sweet like #loveofmylife or cheeky like #outofwomb? We may never know, but this adorable photo will live on in posterity long after hashtags are no longer a thing.
ullstein bild Dtl./ullstein bild/Getty Images
In this vintage maternity ward photo from 1961, it looks like the newborn is actually
waving to the camera. The mom looks so pleased by her child's miraculous ability to pose for a photo. Hopefully she was able to squeeze in a moment to enjoy the fruit plate on her nightstand at some point before they went home. ullstein bild Dtl./ullstein bild/Getty Images
This vintage maternity ward photo from 1960 captured a new mom and her precious baby in the middle of an itty-bitty yawn.
Leonard McCombe/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
I'm not sure if this mom is wearing a fancy nightgown or if she's actually in a dress from the era, but nonetheless, she looks flawless. Even back in 1969 when this vintage maternity ward photo was taken, moms received plenty of help from the hospital staff in those precious few first days after birth.
In 2018, the CDC reported just 3,400
triplet births in the United States, making the occurrence fairly rare among the more than 3 million live births that year. Back in 1969, this set of triplets was born in Scotland, and their mom looks like she can finally breathe a sign of relief now that all three of her babies are safely in her arms.
Do Not "Return To Sender"
This photo of Priscilla Presley, with husband Elvis Presley, holding their daughter, Lisa Marie, in 1968 is a snapshot of an iconic American family. She may have been sitting on the edge of her hospital bed in a dress with a full face of makeup and her hair perfectly coiffed, but we all know
exactly what is going on beneath her glamorous exterior. Even superstars wear mesh undies. Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix/Getty Images
It seems to me that every photo of a woman in the '40s shows them looking subtly glamorous — this 1947 vintage maternity ward photo included.
The fierceness of this photo cannot be overstated. It is not often that five generations of women are photographed together, but the result of this vintage maternity ward photo of a new mom holding her baby with her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother looking on with so much pride is just breathtakingly stunning.
Monty Fresco/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
This baby was born on Leap Day, Feb. 29, 1952, and mom looks like she could not be happier to be holding her newborn if she tried. Her mid-laugh pose just oozes pure joy.
Even *More* Tiny Triplets
Afro Newspaper/Gado/Archive Photos/Getty Images
This vintage maternity ward photo of a mom holding her newborn triplets was captured in 1983. All three teeny babies fit snugly in her lap, embraced by her strong, loving hands.
You're probably used to seeing post-birth photos of royals posing outside of the hospital where they give birth, but this photo of Princess Birgitta of Sweden with her newborn was taken inside of a Munich hospital maternity ward in 1963.
ullstein bild Dtl./ullstein bild/Getty Images
This mom and her newborn in this vintage maternity ward photo from 1957 look like they're doing exactly what every new mom and baby do during their time in the hospital together — get to know each other, face-to-face. Your baby may have spent nine months growing inside of your body, but seeing them for the first time is an entirely new level of incredible.
Mark Goebel Photo Gallery/Archive Photos/Getty Images
Cradling your baby in your arms right after birth is an indescribable feeling. Although it is unknown if the woman standing over the bed is the baby's grandmother, a nurse, or someone else, it is clear that this 1985 vintage maternity ward photo of a mother cradling her baby is timeless.
John Mahler/Toronto Star/Getty Images
In 1984, this photo was taken of the first "test tube" baby born at Toronto General Hospital, just six years after the first baby conceived via in vitro fertilization (IVF) was born. Though we have come light-years in fertility treatment since this photo was taken, the joy on this mom's face holding her newborn perfectly captures what so many moms struggling with fertility hope to achieve.
For All The World To See
Harry Thompson/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
The look of pride on this new mom's face as she holds her sleeping newborn up for the camera to see is
so pure. The thrill of showing off your baby to the world is one that has not changed much at all since 1965. Pierre MICHAUD/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images
Newborns sleep a
lot, so it's no wonder that this baby laying on their mom's lap is yawning. Despite having a sleepy newborn in her lap, the mom is beaming at her child in the way only a brand-new mom can. Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix/Getty Images
Midwife May Guthrie-Lacy snapped a photo of this sweet mother and baby in 1969, the 287th that she helped deliver, to add to her personal collection. We should all be so lucky as to have a midwife who is so invested in her work. I bet she made the entire experience for this mama as enjoyable as she possibly could.
Fox Photos/Hulton Royals Collection/Getty Images
One of the oldest vintage maternity ward photos in this collection, this photo from 1931 features a mom laying in her hospital bed with her newborn, just like so many moms all over the world do and have done day in and day out for decades.
Proud mom and French singer Michèle Torr cradles her newborn in 1967, flashing her brilliant smile and showing the entire world just how precious the life she created is. A smile like this is absolutely contagious because it marks the end of a long, tiring journey known by new moms everywhere.
The look on jazz singer Cleo Laine's face as she cradles her newborn daughter in 1963 is a look new moms know all too well. It's like she's telling the camera, "Hey, look. I
made this. I'm a bad*ss. I can handle anything." Crying baby or not, she looks ready to take on the world. Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix/Getty Images
Back in 1969 when Karen Astley, wife of musician Pete Townshend of The Who, gave birth to the couple's daughter, this photo documented the sheer exhaustion of childbirth that even rockstars can't escape. Even though Townshend is the one yawning here, there is no denying that Astley has the eyes of one tired mama.
You know that priceless feeling you get the first time you hold your tiny newborn baby's face right up to your own and snuggle it close? Well, moms and babies have been sharing precious face-to-face moments like this for years, and this vintage maternity ward photo from 1975 proves it.
This vintage maternity photo highlights the pure blissful feeling that comes when you finally get to hold your newborn babe. Swaddled and snuggled close, this baby looks just so serene in mom's arms and mom herself could not be wearing a sweeter smile. Plus, her ruffled nightgown is
so pretty. ullstein bild Dtl./ullstein bild/Getty Images
You know the nurse in this vintage maternity ward photo has seen it
all. For as long as women have been giving birth in hospitals, nurses have served as cheerleaders, caretakers, and a solid support system for new moms. William KAREL/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images
There is no doubt that the mom and baby in this photo are stunning, but the details here are what makes this shot so relatable. The bedside table holds a telephone, drinking glass, a magazine, and a bottle in a bottle warmer (albeit an old-fashioned one) — everything a new mom needs right within arm's reach.
The New Moms Is Always Right
Denver Post/Denver Post/Getty Images
There is no telling what this new mom was in the middle of explaining when this photo was taken in 1985, but there is no doubt in my mind that she is 100% right about it. Don't mess with a new mama in a hospital gown holding her baby. She will win. Every. Time.
John Downing/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Don't you just love the expressions caught on camera in these vintage maternity ward photos? This dad reaching for the baby's hand as mom cradles the newborn is just precious. Their smiles may not be picture perfect, but the love they're all showing one another in this photo is palpable.
Denver Post/Denver Post/Getty Images
This 1965 vintage maternity ward photo of a Denver judge holding her newborn shows the mom dressed in her coat and ready to head home with her new bundle of joy. Both baby and mom look like they already adore one another. Just look at those loving gazes. So pure and so sweet.
A *Really* Old Hospital
Topical Press Agency/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
This picture is from around 1925, and shows nurses holding babies in the maternity ward of St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London. Fun fact, the hospital itself has been around since before the Magna Carta was signed.
This picture from the 1930s shows fathers holding their babies on baptismal day at the maternity ward at Kramkenhaus Hospital in Germany — one of the oldest hospitals in the country.
Motherhood In A Concentration Camp
Buyenlarge/Archive Photos/Getty Images
This beautiful image of Nurse Aiko Hamaguchi, mother Frances Yokoyama, and baby Fukomoto — taken by Ansel Adams — has a bit of a sad history. This picture, while it encompasses all the warmth and joy of new motherhood, also highlights a grave injustice. It was taken at the maternity ward in the Manzanar Relocation Center in California, an American Japanese internment camp.
Ringo Starr and Maureen Cox in the maternity ward with their son Jason in 1967. That's a whole look he's got going on. But seriously, Maureen looks amazing, and I'm obsessed with that vintage hospital bed.
Dennis Rowe/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
This photo was taken on Dec. 15, 1956, at the observation window at the maternity ward of the North Shore Hospital in Sydney. The dads, as per time immemorial, are being total dads.
That Sweatsuit Would Be $500 Now
Peter Bischoff/PB Archive/Getty Images
Taken in Sweden in 1977, this picture features new parents Rudi Carrell and Ehefrau Anke Kesselaar with their son. Look at how coiffed they both are. Is that a Swedish thing or... what?
Fairfax Media Archives/Fairfax Media Archives/Getty Images
This is a picture of Sydney's first New Year baby, Michelle, with her mother, Margaret Simpson, of Toongabbie, at the maternity section of Baulkham Hills hospital in 1981. This little one was itty bitty, born around 5 pounds, and I love how big of a celebration this was for Sydney that it was documented.
I love the title of this picture: "Triplets And Their Unconscious Father At New York In USA In 1946." Ultrasounds weren't common then, so there's a good chance this dude had no clue he was going home with three babies. His wife probably had an inkling.
No, this isn't a proto version of the amber necklace — it's actually an ID bracelet around the baby's neck. This picture from the 1920s at Bronx Lebanon Hospital shows the newest (of the time) way to match babies and parents. Now we have entire alarm systems.
Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
The title of the image, "Nurse Bringing Newborn Infant to Mother in Hospital Room, Garfield Hospital, Washington, D.C., 1921" says it all, but what I'm drawn to is how home-like that mirror and dresser are. The stuff in hospitals now is so impersonal.
ANDREW HOLBROOKE/Corbis Historical/Getty Images
This gorgeous picture from 1987 was taken at Bronx Lebanon hospital, and it shows two parents mooning over their baby in the NICU. As you can see, 33 years later, the gowns are the same.
Looking Chic After Giving Birth
Audrey Hepburn and her husband, actor Mel Ferrer, welcome baby Sean on July 17, 1960. This would be Audrey's first child. Sean Hepburn Ferrer would go on to become a prolific producer in Switzerland, and I really wish men still wore suits to meet their babies and that hospitals looked like cozy rooms again.
Oh my goodness, this picture from 1967 in Scilly Isles shows what every fan of
The Crown believes to be a real myth — a true smile from Her Royal Majesty. Man, vintage maternity wards were just lovely. Look at all the details on that little bassinet! And all the extra pillows! Bettmann/Bettmann/Getty Images
I love everything about this 1960s photo. The happy dad, the sibling peering through the nursery wonder with a look of awe and
OMG, and the nurse's incredible hairstyle with the hat. Just perfection. Peter Turnley/Corbis Historical/Getty Images
I love this photo, and it really conjures up some sweet idea of what it was like to room share or be around other people in the hospital with your baby. Part of me would love it, and part of me would be totally over it five minutes in.
This article was originally published on
Feb. 28, 2020