THE BBC One hit Call the Midwife has been a trip down memory lane for Freda Bishop and Rosemary Radcliffe.

Freda, 84, and 85-year-old Rosemary were both midwives in the 1950s – the period in which the Sunday night TV drama series is set.

Freda worked at Stroud Maternity Hospital from 1958 to 1986 after training in London in 1946.

“Often there was one toilet for two or three families,” she said.

“I remember one woman lying on a bed with two old blankets. The baby was put on a shelf on the cupboard.

“I used to drink tea out of jam jars and mums used torn sheets as nappies.

“Husbands were never present. Some would go to bed and wake in the morning and say ‘Is it here yet?'”

Freda lodged with the district midwife Mrs Simmonds who put placentas on her garden. “She had lovely tomatoes,” said Freda.

Rosemary, a former matron at Stroud Maternity, trained in Plymouth and Cardiff in 1953 when most babies were born at home.

She said: “Home is the best place to have a baby if everything is alright. Mothers experience less pain at home, they’re more relaxed.”…Continue Reading

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