Prenatal Care In Early 20th Century Kansas

5119 words - 20 pages

Prenatal care is an important part of insuring the wellness of a baby. In the early 20th century, prenatal care was just starting to become an emphasized area of health for women. High infant mortality rates were starting to raise questions as to what could be done to help protect the fetus and insure a healthy childbirth and baby. Kansas attempted to raise awareness of the importance of prenatal care to the general public starting in the early 1900s with “The Kansas Mother’s Manual.” Many women in Kansas followed the guidelines issued within the handbooks, lectures, and posters. Yet, the women in the Southeast Kansas coal mining towns were disadvantaged when it came to prenatal care and childbirth. Infant mortality rates were quite high among the area. In order to understand the reasoning for such high mortality rates, a further examination of prenatal care in the area of Southeast Kansas needs to occur. In the early 1900s, women of the Southeast Kansas coal mining communities lacked prenatal care, which likely contributed to the high infant mortality rate of the area.
Prenatal care, as determined by the Kansas State Board of Health, is broken up into many sections, in which each should receive proper care: medical care, dental care, nursing care, and household help. These ideas are then broken down into further subtopics including diet, exercise, marital relations, clothing, hygiene and general care of the pregnant mother. These things are very important to the health of the woman and fetus. According to the Kansas State Board of Health, “. . . , the comfort of the family and the mother should be anticipated and arranged for in advance, and the health of the mother should be safe-guarded at every step of the way. To do less than this is not economical, is not humane, is not efficient, [and] is not safe.”
In the early twentieth century, prenatal care became a big concern in many states due to the high infant mortality rates of the states. One state of main focus was that of Kansas. In the Bulletin of the Kansas State Board of Health, articles began to pop up that talked about prenatal care, as well as child care in general. A huge emphasis was put on topics such as sanitation, nutrition, rest, and physician care. These bulletins were sent out to Kansas residents, as well as made available in other means such as libraries. Families in the Southeast Kansas coal mining towns are more likely to have lacked resources to be able to receive the bulletin, therefore receiving less information about the importance of prenatal care. Another barrier is that the bulletin was printed in English and many of the miners were non-English speaking immigrants. As a result, immigrant women in the area were misinformed about prenatal care and childbirth. In addition, due to the early years of the 1900s, it is likely that many of the women could not read, once again resulting in misinformation. As it became more obvious that the infant mortality rates in...

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