©Wellcome Library, London

Father-to-be reassured by the family doctor

Grantly Dick-Read's ‘modern' approach to childbirth included ‘education, correct breathing, relaxation and exercises' which would help a healthy woman achieve a ‘natural birth'. In fact, the techniques were based on his investigations of childbirth practices amongst non-westernised African communities. Despite a new wave of ‘practical instructions to young people contemplating ... parenthood', the delivery room was still no place for fathers. In this cartoon, the father-to-be is reassured by a nonplussed general practitioner:

Father-to-be: ‘I can't stand this suspense any longer. It will kill me'. Doctor: ‘Calm yourself, my dear sir. I've brought thousands of babies into the world and never lost a father yet'.

At this period, as many women were dying in childbirth as in their grandmothers' days.

Reproduction of a drawing after Frank Reynolds.

Source: Punch, 1 February 1928, page 129.