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  • VistEngland VAQAS



Having a Baby

Having a Baby


What is like to have a baby? And has it always been the same?

This exhibition draws on real-life stories to explore the history of pregnancy and giving birth from the 1890s to the present.

Having a baby in the 1890s was very dangerous, and it was common for women to die during childbirth. One in seven babies also died before they reached their first birthday. Women who survived would probably have many babies in their lifetime; the average family had six children but many women had more. They gave birth at home, helped by a relative or neighbour who had no formal qualifications.

Forceps, used to pull the baby out of the birth canal, were invented at the end of the 1800s and saved many lives, but could cause injury and infection. Before the 1950s, when gas and air apparatus was developed, most women in Britain gave birth without any form of pain relief.

As well as exploring the history of childbirth, this exhibition also highlights the major improvements that have taken place over the years. By 1990, the average family had just two children and most women today give birth in hospital under the watchful eye of trained midwives and doctors. They have modern pain relief and skilled help if things go wrong. Death in childbirth is now extremely rare.

This exhibition also offers the chance to try out our popular ‘empathy belly’ to find out how it feels to be pregnant!

Baby changing facilitiesCoach parties acceptedCredit cards accepted (no fee)Disabled toiletsEducation/study areaFacilities for groupsFacilities for educational visitsGift shopOn-site cateringPicnic siteWheelchairs availableAccepts groupsFacilities for conferencingFacilities for corporate hospitality



Near St James's Hospital,
141 Beckett Street,



See location of Thackray Medical Museum on Google mapsSee location on Google maps

Map reference: SE 318348  Lat: 53.80855 Long: -1.51817

By Road:
Leave M1 at jct 43, then M621 to jct 4. Follow signs for Harrogate and St James Hospital over River Aire at Crown Point Bridge. Get into right-hand lane. At jct go straight on (signed St James' Hospital) under bridge to major jct.

By Public Transport:
Taxi or buses (take bus routed to St James' Hospital), City centre buses include 16, 42, 50, 50A and 49 Get off the bus at the hospital and the museum entrance is next door.

Parking: with charge

Accessible by Public Transport: 2 miles from Leeds station


  • Baby changing facilitiesBaby changing facilities
  • Coach parties acceptedCoach parties accepted
  • Credit cards accepted (no fee)Credit cards accepted (no fee)
  • Disabled toiletsDisabled toilets
  • Education/study areaEducation/study area
  • Facilities for groupsFacilities for groups
  • Facilities for educational visitsFacilities for educational visits
  • Gift shopGift shop
  • On-site cateringOn-site catering
  • Picnic sitePicnic site
  • Wheelchairs availableWheelchairs available
  • Accepts groupsAccepts groups
  • Facilities for conferencingFacilities for conferencing
  • Facilities for corporate hospitalityFacilities for corporate hospitality