Kätilöopisto, a former maternity hospital in Helsinki, Finland in 2018

A maternity hospital specializes in caring for women during pregnancy and childbirth. It also provides care for newborn infants, and may act as a centre for clinical training in midwifery and obstetrics. Formerly known as lying-in hospitals, most of them, like cottage hospitals, have been absorbed into larger general hospitals, where they operate as the maternity department.


The premises of the former General Lying-In Hospital, now a hotel

Maternity hospitals in the United Kingdom can be traced back to a number of 18th century establishments in London and Dublin. Prior to these foundations, childbirth was a domestic occasion. The term coined for these establishments, but now archaic, is "a lying-in hospital", referring to the custom of lying-in, prolonged bedrest after childbirth, better known now as postpartum confinement.[citation needed]

The first noted lying-in hospital appears to be one founded by Sir Richard Manningham in Jermyn Street, London, in 1739 and which evolved into the Queen Charlotte's Maternity Hospital. A better documented foundation is that of the Dublin Lying-In Hospital, established in 1745 by Bartholomew Mosse, and which served as a model for three subsequent London foundations: the British Lying-In Hospital, a 1749 establishment in Holborn; the 1750 City of London Lying-In Hospital, in the City; and the General Lying-In Hospital on Westminster Bridge Road, established in 1767.[1][2][3] A number of other such hospitals were formed in the mid-18th century. All of these were run by male physicians, women being blocked from completing training as doctors until the 1870s.[citation needed]

The first maternity hospital founded and run by a woman was Elizabeth Garrett Anderson's New Hospital for Women, which evolved from an existing dispensary in the 1770s, and was renamed in 1918 the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital.[4][5][6][7] Its work continues in the modern Elizabeth Garrett Anderson maternity wing of University College Hospital, part of UCLH NHS Foundation Trust.[citation needed]


The Portland Hospital in central London was created in 1983 as a private hospital, i.e. not part of the National Health Service. Also in 1983, the Rosie Hospital opened in Cambridge, next to Addenbrooke's Hospital.[citation needed]

The National Maternity Hospital, Dublin is the largest mother-and-baby hospital in Ireland.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Queen Charlotte's Maternity Hospital". AIM25 - Archives in London and the M25 area. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  2. ^ "Information Leaflet Number 35 Records of patients in London hospitals" (PDF). London Metropolitan Archives. City of London. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  3. ^ Ryan, Thomas (1885). The history of Queen Charlotte's Lying-in Hospital. pp. ix–xv.
  4. ^ UCLH - Our hospitals - University College Hospital Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Wing Archived 2009-04-11 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Elston, Mary Ann. "'Run by Women, (mainly) for Women': Medical Women's Hospitals in Britain, 1866-1948" (PDF). Archived from the original (pdf) on 2012-07-07. Retrieved 2007-10-28.
  6. ^ "'Run by Women, (mainly) for Women': Medical Women's Hospitals in Britain, 1866-1948". Rodopi. Retrieved 2008-09-18.
  7. ^ "Elizabeth Garrett Anderson - Victorian Women's Campaigner". BBC. December 2004. Retrieved 2007-10-28.