Women who were having babies in the ’50s couldn’t even talk about being pregnant. It was just something that wasn't brought up in conversations. These days, women are demanding to talk about whatever they want and feeding in public is becoming the norm.
Back in the 1950s, there was no pain medication #sayitaintso Yes, it’s true, there were also no NICUs or antibiotics, and we can’t even guarantee that doctors were washing their hands thoroughly. Times have certainly changed over the years but sometimes it’s cool to go back and take a look at what it meant to be pregnant in the ’50s.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that due to the upgrades that we have had over the years, we have seen the rate of mothers not making it through childbirth drop by 99 percent, while the rate of babies not making it has dropped by 90 percent.
The clothing that women used to wear over the years have certainly changed and we have to admit that sometimes we wish a few styles would come back. Let’s venture back to another time and see just how much has changed. Check out these 20 pics of what pregnancy looks like in the '50s.
20 Waiting For A Ride Across The Border
These individuals look like they are waiting, presumably for a way to get across the border to a life of happiness and freedom. There is a wait however as they stand in line. One woman is quite far along in her pregnancy as she waits in line. The picture itself says a lot about what was going on at the time. There must have been a lot going through her mind at the time as she imagined a new life for her and her unborn child. It would have been worrisome but also exhilarating as well. She must have wanted to try to start a whole new life for herself and her family.
19 Photoshoots In The '50s
Seriously how cute does this woman look in her maternity wear? Thankfully it was okay for women to wear pants at the time. Most of the shirts had the A-line where it ballooned at the bottom leaving a very flattering shape. You certainly didn’t see too many women who were wearing tight-fitting clothing during that time.
Another thing that was uncommon during that time was “baby-proofing” the home. At that time, it was expected that the mother would “train” the children to not touch things that they weren’t supposed to touch. We’re sure that went over really well.
18 Covered Up In The Delivery Room
These days, nurses tell their patients to throw modesty out the window because there are bound to be multiple people that are going to see your lady parts. But in the ’50s, it certainly wasn’t okay for a woman to be too uncovered, even in the delivery room. You can see the great care that has been taken here to ensure that the woman’s dignity stays intact.
During that era, it was also common for the mother to be blamed for ailments that her child had. For example, if a child had colic, it was blamed on the mother for having “tainted milk.” Milk was commonly tainted by having a “bad attitude.” It was a whole new level of mom judging.
17 Out For A Day Of Shopping
The woman on the right is clearly pregnant and it’s a great example of how covered up women were back then when they were pregnant. Back in that day, there were no pregnancy tests that were done in the home, so you had to go to the doctor to have your pregnancy verified. Those results took two weeks to get back so it was a long wait to find out of you were pregnant. It’s hard to believe there was a time that you couldn’t just go to the drug store to get a test. It must have been really hard back then having to wait that long.
16 A Day In The Maternity Ward
This couldn’t look any more awkward if they tried. Women these days are putting their deliveries in their social media stories. The woman lying down in the picture couldn't look more unhappy if she tried. The deliveries were often done at home but even if they were in the hospital, they were unmedicated. When anesthetics began being more popular, women were a little too medicated. They called them, "twilight sleep births," but it wasn’t popular because women complained about unpleasant side effects. Some were also given medications even when they didn't want any, so that didn't go over well either.
15 The High Style Pregnancy
We don’t see too many of these outfits but this was a high-society woman so they may have dressed differently. Her outfit is a little tighter than most that we have seen. Back in the 50’s women who were pregnant were considered to be “fragile.” You certainly wouldn’t see a pregnant woman exercising or lifting heavy at the gym. There were often times that a woman would be ordered to bed rest even if it was unnecessary. If they gained too much, they would be put on a special way of eating by their doctor.
14 How The Rich Had Babies In The ’50s
If you were rich in the ’50s, then you were allowed a little more comfort when it came to having a baby. We see that the woman has her baby right beside her in some kind of drawer. She also has easy access to a phone so she can let her family members know that they can come and visit the baby. She looks like she’s in complete comfort and you would never know that she just had a baby. This picture could easily have been an ad for why you would want to have babies in the ’50s.
13 The Lady Dressed All In Black
This super classy outfit is considered to be high-style for that era and we absolutely love it. It’s once again in the A-line style that hid the pregnancy rather than show it off.
Back in the day, it wasn’t very popular for women to rock their babies.
This seems odd because it’s such a popular form of getting your child to get to sleep these days. Back then “jostling” or rocking a child was considered to be too much stimulation for the child. They were actually advised against it, which is so bizarre to think about now.
12 All In A Day's Work
Motherhood certainly wasn’t easy for everyone in the ’50s especially if you had multiple children. This is a standard housewife dress that you would see on a housewife that didn’t have a lot of money. She looks absolutely exhausted in this photo.
Back then it was pretty common to just leave your baby to cry.
Mothers didn’t go see their children every time that they cried. It was okay for them to leave their children to cry instead of going to pick them up and comfort them. These days we have sleep training that teaches us why it’s important.
11 Nobody Worried About Their Looks
These days women are doing competitions while pregnant. It’s pretty common to work out during your pregnancy in our era and it’s even encouraged. But in the 50’s you would not see a woman working out throughout her pregnancy.
Change in appearance was just something that happened and in out-of-hand situations, the doctor would prescribe medication for women to keep looking the same way.
Yes, you read that right. It’s pretty crazy to see how different things are now from back then.
10 Celebrity Pregnancies Were Different In The ’50s
Lucille Ball was pregnant when she filled some of her episodes of, I Love Lucy in the ’50s. The episode called Lucy Is Enceinte literally had to dance around using the word “pregnant” on the show. CBS at the time considered the word to be “too [much] for air” and that was why they used the French word “Enceinte” instead. She had a heck of a time telling her husband that she was pregnant without saying the word so she instead sang him a song with lyrics like these, “We’re Having A Baby, My Baby And Me.”
9 A Covered-Up Pant Suit
This outfit looks practical and wonderful for someone who was pregnant and had to run around with other children. Once again, we see that the woman is basically all covered-up. When women were having children during that time, it’s wacky how little they were worried about their safety. We go to extreme measures these days to make sure that we have a car seat and other safety measures while back then they didn’t worry about car seats. They weren’t even legislated until the ’80s. Sometimes women just had their babies in Moses baskets on the backseat of the car. It's a good thing times have changed!
8 Motherhood Was Serious Business
It’s funny how some women just never smiled in these pregnancy pictures. We also don’t see too many pregnancy photos that show so much skin. This baby doll dress was adorable and something that would be great to wear during the sweaty summer months. Oddly enough, even having the umbilical cord getting out of sorts during pregnancy was blamed on the mother. It wasn't uncommon to hear that it was the woman's fault for trying to reach high things off shelves. It’s so bizarre to think that a mother would be blamed for these things.
7 I Love Lucy Loved Pregnancy
Lucille Ball being pregnant on air was considered a wrongdoing at the time. One writer Genevieve Koski remembered what it was like by saying, “in the eyes of the CBS executives who balked at the idea of its star—who slept in a twin bed next to her husband onscreen—actually acknowledging and openly displaying the biological consequences of [having private time]. But such was the clout of Lucille Ball at the time: Her second pregnancy was written into the second season of I Love Lucy.
Her first coincided with the filming of the series’ pilot, in which Ball is clearly showing, but her condition was never acknowledged.”
6 A Regal Maternity Dress
It’s almost like the more that they try to hide a pregnancy, the more that she shows. The woman in this picture is clearly near the end of her pregnancy.
The fact that society was so determined she needed to cover herself with such a large dress actually has the opposite effect as it accentuates her size instead, making it obvious that she is pregnant.
Back then, even children had more freedoms than pregnant women. As we saw on Mad Men, children were often sent to the grocery store. They were also left alone often without supervision even if they had unsafe items.
5 A Vintage Photo Of Motherhood
This beautiful woman was just about ready to burst and she couldn’t look happier about it. These old photos are precious because they show us a different time when things were just done differently.
The phrase, “it takes a village” was created back in those days and that was because it was up to a neighborhood to take care of the children within it.
No one was ever left alone to care for their children, they always had a support system. That would mean that it was pretty common for children to be spanked by people who were not their parents.
4 It Was A High Fashion Ordeal
We really enjoy this outfit, it’s not only classy but it really hides the fact that she was pregnant which is what they really wanted back then. Once again, women back in the ’50s didn’t worry about safety like they do these days. There were times when the mothers would leave their children in carriages out on the front porch to allow them “to get some fresh air.” If you have ever watched, Call The Midwife, you will know exactly what we are talking about. This sort of thing carried on until the 80’s when parents started worrying about “stranger danger.”
3 The Fashion Was Much More Modest
This is a really cute outfit for the time but it’s not likely something you would see on Blake Lively these days. It was quaint and precious which was the way that pregnant women were seen back then.
Women were treated as though they were porcelain dolls, which is ironic since even children weren't treated that way.
Children were often allowed to play in the streets and there were times they wouldn’t check on them for hours. When it was time for dinner, mothers would stand at the door and call for their children to come home.
2 Always A Woman With Grace And Style
Audrey Hepburn was all about grace and elegance and that certainly didn’t change when she was pregnant. We love this stunning look and it’s exactly the kind of outfit that you would expect from her. With her first husband, Mel Ferrer, she went through two losses before finally having her son Sean.
She had her second son, Luca after the age of 40 which was certainly rare back then. She often kept a low profile when she was pregnant because of her prior misfortunes. So this was a rare photo opportunity.
1 A Perfect Moment In Fashion
This is another cool outfit for that time. We couldn’t see these full-length outfits these days because we are more apt to showing of four bellies rather than hiding them. Back then, it was also not frowned upon to have a puff while pregnant. We couldn’t even imagine that happening in our era but back then no one really thought twice about it.
In fact, at that time, they were encouraged to do it because it “calmed pregnant women down.”
That’s just nuts to us now but at that time, the harmful effects had not yet been studied.