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Oxygenaire MK3 portable incubator with transformer container, United Kingdom, c. 1960

In Britain today, it is generally a mother's choice whether to opt for a home birth, birthing centre or hospital delivery. Until the second half of the 20th century, most babies were born at home. Portable incubators were frequently needed for journeys to hospital. They also moved babies to special care units from outlying hospitals. They were often designed to operate from an ambulance’s batteries. This example of a portable incubator was acquired from St Anne's Hospital, Bristol in 1997. The fall in the numbers of home births since the 1960s means equipment such as this is rare. This may be the sole example of this type of portable incubator in existence.

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Glossary: obstetrics

A branch of medicine dealing with the care of women. This care occurs during pregnancy, childbirth, and the period of recovery from childbirth.

Glossary: incubator

A container in which environmental conditions can be maintained. When babies are born prematurely, they are placed in an incubator to maintain the correct temperature and humidity.