Pregnant women today have a set of rules to follow, such as avoiding foods and certain drinks. However, some of these rules that you hear today may vary in different countries due to cultural reasons. Additionally, pregnant women today are encouraged to eat foods like eggs, avocado and salmon because they have properties that can help with their unborn baby's development. They are also told to take folic acid for the same reason. However, the rules that pregnant women should be following today are quite different from the rules that pregnant women were told to follow a few decades ago.
When I was pregnant with my kids in the early 2000s, it was a known fact that folic acid was highly recommended because I knew to take it during my pregnancies. However, my mother had my brother and me in the 1970s and she knew nothing about folic acid and its benefits. That is because the benefits of folic acid during pregnancy were not known back then. There probably were other rules that she had to follow that are considered to be laughable today. I can't say for sure because I don't know what they were.
I can say this much, though. After doing research on the kind of rules and recommendations pregnant women had to follow a century ago, I could not believe what I learned. I am about to share with you 15 rules that pregnant women a century ago had to follow.
15 Had To Wear Maternity Corsets
According to the What to Expect site, all women were expected to wear corsets but it was beginning to phase out in the 1920s when women were expected to wear girdles instead. Girls as young as seven-years-old were expected to wear corsets. The purpose was to hide their unwanted girth which is quite likely a huge contributor to the pressure to be thin nowadays. Pregnant women still had to wear corsets but were called maternity corsets which were there to hide their expanding bellies.
However, in the 1920s, they all switched to wearing girdles, and maternity wear did not become what it is today until the 1970s. Therefore, even though pregnant women after the 1920s did not wear corsets anymore, they still were restricted to wearing girdles and anything else that would hide their growing waistlines. It is nice to know in cases like this how far we have come.
14 Must Drink Two Pints Of Milk A Day
Oh goodness, coming from someone who has always hated milk since literally day 1 (though I drank chocolate milk during my pregnancies and had cheddar and mozzarella cheese), I am so glad I did not exist in the early 1900s.
According to BBC News, pregnant women a century ago were expected to drink two pints of milk each day in order to stay healthy.
My mother drank that amount of milk when she was pregnant with me in the 1970s, and I kind of wonder if that may have put me off of it, because like I said I hated milk ever since I was a small child. However, I don't mind other dairy products and like I mentioned I don't mind chocolate milk. I have to wonder how people who were born to mothers who drank that much milk during their pregnancies felt about it. Calcium is important, and thank goodness for other sources and for supplements.
13 Must Give Birth At Home
There are many moms who prefer giving birth at home with a midwife present even to this day. However, the majority of women choose to give birth at their local hospital and have a birth plan ready before the big event happens. That is because they will be properly taken care of and so will their babies – you would hope anyway. Sometimes doctors mess up and, additionally, most women will beg for an epidural, which you can only get at the hospital.
However, according to the BBC News, a century ago women were told to give birth at home and not at the hospital. That was because of the fact that a century ago, there was a high rate of infections after giving birth. They did not have the antibiotics that we do today. Therefore, doctors did not want any mom and baby to be at risk for that. Giving birth at home was the way to go back then.
12 Not Allowed To Look At The Moon
There are still plenty of superstitions about pregnancy. I mean, the fact that many couples wait to announce their pregnancy after being twelve weeks along is a superstition in itself. However, it is an understandable one, since the riskiest time is in the first trimester and many couples would rather keep it quiet if something did go wrong.
However, you already know that a century ago pregnant women were not allowed to think 'ugly' thoughts because or be exposed to loud noises. The other common rule that pregnant women back then had to follow was that they were not allowed to look at the moon. Why?
According to Road to Avonlea, pregnant women who looked at the moon back in those days took the risk of their baby becoming a lunatic.
Chances that babies born to these women would have turned out just fine and sane.
11 Only Two Hours Of Fresh Air A Day
Even today, it is a good idea to spend as much time outdoors while pregnant or not in order to get some fresh air. During the winter in colder climates, however, that can be tricky. Not all of us have the luxury of traveling to a tropical country in order to get that kind of fresh air needed.
However, a century ago, according to America's Health Ranking, pregnant women were advised to get at least two hours of each day in the open air. The reason for this was not heavily elaborated on however this was a rule and it was likely due to the fact that if pregnant women did not get enough open or fresh air, it would not be good for the baby. There is again some truth to that.
It is known that if you don't get enough fresh air, you will not feel your best because your circulation is weaker.
10 Drink Bubbly To Relieve Morning Sickness
We already know that pregnant women a century ago were told to drink dark ale in order to boost up their iron levels. That being said, booze was acceptable to drink back then.
That is because according to The S Files, a century ago, doctors told pregnant women who were dealing with morning sickness to drink champagne in order to bring them relief.
When you think about that, it is quite mind-boggling. I have personally heard of women, who had no idea that they were pregnant, getting sick after having a sip of booze. So it makes me wonder how champagne could have been helpful in regards to relieving nausea back then.
Things have most definitely changed because when I had nausea when I was pregnant with my daughter, I was able to relieve it by sipping on ginger ale and eating a few crackers which are the typical recommendations for morning sickness relief today. I know there are many women who don't get relief at all, no matter what, but champagne? I cannot even imagine that.
9 Never Think Of Ugly People
Today, pregnant women are told to stay as calm as possible due to the fact that stress is not good for the baby and this fact has been known for a while, according to WebMD. However, there is no evidence whatsoever that suggests that if any pregnant woman thinks certain thoughts, her baby will turn out to be a certain way.
However, according to EssentialBaby.com, if pregnant women thought about 'ugly people', then her babies would turn out 'ugly' as well. The same applied to thinking about people who were deformed or diseased. If pregnant women thought about those who were afflicted, then they could put their babies at risk!
Pregnant women were also told to avoid injury and disease at all costs, though pregnant women today are given the same advice, however, for very different reasons. We know enough today to know that having not the prettiest thoughts while pregnant will not affect the baby.
8 Exercise Is Forbidden
Moderate exercise nowadays during pregnancy is not only acceptable, it is recommended. Exercise not only helps stave off certain pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes (though I realize not always, as some women are unfortunately going to end up with it no matter how well they take care of themselves), but it helps keep the circulation going. Therefore, taking brisk walks is quite alright. However, doing any kind of intensive workouts are not.
However, according to the BBC News, exercise during pregnancy was completely forbidden a century ago.
In fact, pregnant women who rode bikes or exercised at all back then were considered to be "temperamentally unsound".
They likely believed back then that if a woman did any kind of exercise, it could put her unborn baby in jeopardy. But the fact of the matter is that not getting enough circulation does far more damage, which they did not even consider back then.
7 Must Drink Dark Ale For Iron
Today, pregnant women know about the dangers of drinking alcohol and will keep away from booze at all costs, even beer. However, according to TodaysParent.com, that was not always the case. In fact, pregnant women in the early 1900s and even before that were encouraged to drink dark ale in order to help increase their iron counts.
It was even known back then how crucial it was for pregnant women to have iron levels up to a decent level. However, today, pregnant women are told to take iron supplements and to increase their iron counts by eating foods that are rich in iron such as beef, eggs, spinach, dark chocolate, lentils and pumpkin seeds. Anemia is dangerous for both mom and baby and since this was known back then, remedies were suggested.
The difference is that ale is no longer recommended as a source to boost iron levels since drinking booze during pregnancy is a no-go.
6 Avoid Sour Or Salty Foods
Today, people are told to take it easy with the salt intake, whether they are pregnant or not. That said, this rule applies to men as well, because a diet high in salt can lead to high blood pressure. In fact, my grandfather was a very thin man who ate too much salt and ended up passing away from a stroke due to high blood pressure over 20 years ago.
However, it has been said that pregnant women one century ago were told to not eat anything that was sour or salty, which included under-ripe fruit or pickles because it was said at that time that if a pregnant woman consumes anything sour or salty, the child would likely end up having a sour disposition.
I remember eating plenty of salty pretzels (within reason) when I was pregnant with my daughter and she is anything but sour. I think that nowadays medical professionals know much better.
5 Avoid Loud Noises
I remember back when I was pregnant with my daughter and I went to a Christmas party at my husband's work, and the band playing at the event was incredibly loud. I hated it and was worried about how it affected my pregnancy but fortunately, it had no effect, because my daughter is completely fine.
However, according to Road To Avonlea, if pregnant women were startled by loud noises, it was worrisome back then because it could cause the baby to be 'disfigured'.
Unfortunately, loud noises are unavoidable. You can't avoid them now and you certainly could not avoid those noises back then. Loud noises will happen unexpectedly from various sources. Especially if pregnant women today live near freeways, for example.
My thinking is that that superstition became history once it was found that pregnant women who were exposed to loud noises over time gave birth to healthy babies.
4 Males Are Forbidden
Actually, it is a known fact that a century ago, and even prior to that, men were not allowed to be present with their wives while they were giving birth. In fact, that rule stuck around until the 1950s and 1960s, according to History News Network. This rule made these dads-to-be feel isolated and depressed. Who can blame them because dads are just as much as the parent of these newborn babies as their moms are!
At that point, men were allowed to spend quiet time alone with their wives while they were in labor. However, according to that same source, men were not allowed to enter delivery rooms until sometime in the 1970s. It is nice to see that that rule disappeared at that point, and today many dads are having the honor of cutting the cord. Times have most definitely changed over the course of a century.
3 No Need To Eat For Two
Even today, pregnant women are not recommended to eat for two. According to Women’s Healthcare Topics, they need an additional 300 to 400 calories a day after the second trimester, which is not exactly eating for two. However, according to America's Health Ranking, it was made aware that eating for two at the time was not necessary as there was no need for additional nourishment, except during the last two months of pregnancy when the baby begins to gain significant weight.
The recommended foods during that time were either a glass of milk or cocoa and a biscuit between meals or at bedtime.
You can see the recommendations about the weight gain are similar today, but you are free to eat other foods as long as you know they are safe to eat for the baby. That means you are not limited to eating what pregnant women a century ago were told to eat.
2 Don't Quit!
It is known that smoking is harmful to the baby. However, according to the author who wrote the article on Todaysparent.com "Being pregnant: Then vs. Now", said that her mother was told:
quitting smoking during pregnancy was a no-no because it would cause a rise in blood pressure.
Additionally, pregnant women that smoked in the first part of the 20th century believed that smoking was healthy. However, my belief as to why doctors would discourage pregnant women to quit smoking back then was because quitting smoking or any other addiction can be quite stressful. And, stress is definitely no good for the baby, and stress has been linked to high blood pressure for a long time.
In fact, I have personally come across some women discussing how to quit smoking during pregnancy and the advice they had gotten was to do is slowly and not cold turkey because of the stress levels associated with just quitting cold turkey. That is an excellent point!
1 Drink Brandy And Soda To Stimulate Appetite
I am unsure what kind of soda these doctors were referring to, as I have no idea if it was soda water or cola, but either way, soda of any kind mixed with brandy sounds like a put-off. Additionally, it makes me wonder how many babies were born with defects due to consumption of alcohol during pregnancy. We will never really know the facts because kids that were affected were sent away to institutions in the early 1900s, according to NewStatesman.
However, it obviously got to the point when it was found that consuming alcohol was dangerous during pregnancy. Therefore, any kind of remedy no longer contained booze after that point.