In this house there is a room where ex-patients who are in service can bring their infants upon their holidays. Two or three of these women were here upon the occasion of my visit, and it was a pathetic sight to see them dandling the babies from whom they had been separated and giving them their food.
It is the custom in this and other Salvation Army Maternity Homes to set apart a night in every month for what is called a Social Evening. On these occasions fifty or more of the former inmates will arrive with their children, whom they have brought from the various places where they are at nurse, and for a few hours enjoy their society, after which they take them back to the nurses and return to their work, whatever it may be. By means of this kindly arrangement these poor mothers are enabled from time to time to see something of their offspring, which, needless to say, is a boon they greatly prize.
THE MATERNITY HOSPITAL
IVY HOUSE, HACKNEY
This Hospital is one for the accommodation of young mothers on the occasion of the birth of their illegitimate children. It is a humble building, containing twenty-five beds, although I think a few more can be arranged. That it serves its purpose well, until the large Maternity Hospital of which I have already spoken can be built, is shown by the fact that 286 babies (of whom only twenty-five were not illegitimate) were born here in 1900 without the loss of a single mother. Thirty babies died, however, which the lady-Officer in charge thought rather a high proportion, but one accounted for by the fact that during this particular year a large number of the births were premature. In 1908, 270 children were born, of whom twelve died, six of these being premature.
The cases are drawn from London and other towns where the Salvation Army is at work. Generally they, or their relatives and friends, or perhaps the father of the child, apply to the Army to help them in their trouble, thereby, no doubt, preventing many child-murders and some suicides. The charge made by the Institution for these lying-in cases is in proportion to the ability of the patient to pay. Many contribute nothing at all. From those who do pay, the average sum received is 10_s_. a week, in return for which they are furnished with medical attendance, food, nursing, and all other things needful to their state.
I went over the Hospital, and saw these unfortunate mothers lying in bed, each of them with her infant in a cot beside her. Although their immediate trial was over, these poor girls looked very sad.
‘They know that their lives are spoiled,’ said the lady in charge.
Most of them were quite young, some being only fifteen, and the majority under twenty. This, it was explained to me, is generally due to the ignorance of the facts of life in which girls are kept by their parents or others responsible for their training. Last year there was a mother aged thirteen in this Hospital.