These Vintage Maternity Ward Photos Prove That Motherhood Is Timeless
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.
1. A Loving Gaze
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.
2. First Look
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.
3. Flower Power
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.
4. A Spoonful Of Sugar
Timeless actress 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.
5. Proud Mom
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.
6. Sibling Love
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.
7. Christmas Baby
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.
8. A Classic Selfie
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.
9. Waving Hello
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.
10. A Sweet Yawn
This vintage maternity ward photo from 1960 captured a new mom and her precious baby in the middle of an itty-bitty yawn.
11. Helpful Hospital Staff
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.
12. Tiny Triplets
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.
13. 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.
14. Natural Beauty
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.
15. *Five* Generations
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.
16. Joyous Laughter
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.
17. Even *More* Tiny Triplets
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.
18. A Royal Birth
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.
19. Nice To Meet You
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.
20. Timeless Love
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.
21. Holding Out Hope
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.
22. For All The World To See
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.
23. Sleepy Baby
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.
24. Say Cheese
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.
25. Love Everlasting
The oldest vintage maternity ward photo 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.
26. All Smiles
Proud mom and French singer Michèlle 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.
27. I *Made* This
The look on jazz singer Cleo Lane'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.
28. Exhaustion All Around
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.
29. Face To Face
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.
30. Pure Bliss
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.
31. Essential Support
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.
32. Within Arm's Reach
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.
33. The New Moms Is Always Right
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.
34. Holding Hands
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.
35. Dressed & Ready
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.
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