Even women who have never been pregnant before have probably heard some common pregnancy advice. As a society, we generally know what pregnant women should or shouldn't do.
There are certain vitamins and supplements with labels that specifically say they should not be used by breastfeeding moms. And there are certain activities that pregnant women should avoid for safety reasons, like riding fast rollercoasters or flying on a plane during the third trimester. This stuff is just common knowledge at this point, right? Everyone knows the basic dos and don’ts of pregnancy advice, even plenty of guys out there!
However, some of the advice that seems so obvious today was, well, not always so obvious. In fact, some old advice from doctors goes completely against what they say pregnant women should do today—there’s so much new information. Let’s take a look back through the history of strange and often inaccurate advice given to pregnant women, because it sure has changed a lot compared to today. Older generations were subjected to some pretty strange rules and traditions! Here are 20 things that moms did during pregnancy 30 years ago that doctors advise against today.
20 Women Were Allowed To Eat Processed Deli Meats
According to Web MD, pregnant women today are advised to avoid deli meats like sliced turkey and ham because of the risk of contracting listeria, an infection that can affect both mom and baby. But according to Babble, women who gave birth during previous decades had no idea that eating deli meats might be a bad idea during pregnancy, and doctors had no issue with it at all! Many of the little rules about eating during pregnancy that people are familiar with today were totally unknown before. Nowadays, there is just more research to back up all these guidelines.
19 Women Were Allowed To Smoke
This might be one of the worst pieces of advice that doctors ever doled out to pregnant women. According to Babble, on old book of pregnancy advice titled Pregnancy and Childbirth: A Book for Expectant Mothers, advised pregnant women to smoke once a day to relax! Now, doctors know that smoking during pregnancy is very bad, and if a woman who smokes finds out that she is pregnant, she is told to quit as soon as she sees that positive result. If a woman plans to become pregnant, she should give up this habit beforehand.
18 Women Had To Avoid Sunlight
Today, doctors know that there is no reason for pregnant women to avoid being out in the sun—sure, they should wear sunscreen like everyone else, but there are no other concerns. But according to Mom.me, pregnant women were once told to avoid being out in the sun for extended periods of time, not because they might get an irritating sunburn, but because it might “cook” the baby! Yup, that was once the prevailing wisdom. Today, everyone knows that this is not true, and spending time outside in nature to destress and relax can be a great idea for pregnant women.
17 Women Were Supposed To Watch Their Figures
According to the American Pregnancy Association, gaining anywhere between 25 to 38 pounds during pregnancy is considered normal and healthy. Gaining less or more could end up being a cause for concern, depending on the reason. Sure, some women will naturally fall outside of this range, but it’s important to get extra nutrients during pregnancy! However, according to Mumsnet, doctors used to advise that women should only gain about 20 pounds during pregnancy, simply so that they would look slimmer! It’s a good thing that advice has gone out the door, because women need to stay nourished during their pregnancies.
16 Women Had To Abstain From All Spicy Foods
According to Baby Center, some women today find that eating spicy foods near their due date can help induce labor. Sure, there are some foods that should be avoided during pregnancy, but there is nothing harmful about spicy foods. But according to Little Things, women used to be told that eating spicy foods during pregnancy would affect the baby. There was never any real evidence for this—it was probably just anecdotal—but plenty of women heeded this advice anyway. Thankfully, nowadays doctors and midwives have a much more accurate understanding of the foods that pregnant women should try to avoid.
15 Women Were Told That Moderate Drinking Is Fine
Whoa, this one seems pretty crazy! But this actually used to be very common advice. In fact, according to Mumsnet, some pregnant women in previous decades were actually encouraged to drink to get their iron levels up—even during the third trimester! Yup, it’s hard to imagine a doctor ever telling a woman this today. It is widely known that drinking during pregnancy is no good for the mom or baby. Doctors today say there is no safe level of alcohol that can be consumed during pregnancy, and it is best for pregnant women to simply avoid it until after giving birth.
14 Women Were Told To Ignore Their Cravings
According to Mom Junction, today doctors know that pregnancy cravings are usually perfectly normal, and as long as a pregnant woman isn’t craving anything that she shouldn't eat, it’s okay to indulge. In fact, it can be beneficial, because craving a certain food can indicate a nutritional deficiency. Plus, they need to eat some extra calories anyway, so why worry? But according to Mental Floss, pregnant women used to be told to ignore their cravings—after all, how else could they keep that gain under 20 pounds, right? Ignoring cravings isn’t necessary, though, especially if it could help address a nutrient deficiency.
13 Dad Stayed Out Of The Delivery Room
Most women would agree that having the father of their child around when they head into the delivery room (or when the midwife shows up for a home birth) is a good thing. After all, it’s always good to have a little extra support from a loved one. But according to Pop Sugar, it used to be very rare for men to enter the delivery room at all! Any man who stayed present while his wife was giving birth was considered to be a bit of an outlier. Now, it is recommended for fathers to stay in the delivery room.
12 Baby Was Whisked Away After Birth
Today, most mothers say that the moment they got to hold their baby after giving birth was absolutely magical. Finally, after nine months, their little bundle of joy had arrived, and all of those pregnancy aches and pains were worth it. But according to Mumsnet, babies used to whisked away right after birth so that doctors and nurses could monitor them away from their mothers. The mother and father could only visit the baby at certain times of day. Now, medical professionals know that skin to skin contact with their mother is very important for a baby, especially a newborn.
11 They Didn’t Have Epidurals
Many women today simply can’t imagine giving birth without the incredible level of pain relief that an epidural provides. But women in previous decades did not always have this option—the epidural is actually a relatively new medical development. According to Today’s Parent, there did used to be other options for pain relief that some women would opt for, but none were as safe and effective as the epidural. Now that the epidural is available, some women still choose to forego it, but many women take advantage of the relief that it offers—it can make childbirth a much easier experience.
10 Women Stayed In The Hospital For A Week
According to Today’s Parent, it was very common for women to stay in the hospital for up to week after giving birth in previous decades. Doctors thought that they needed to be monitored very closely, and that the babies did, too. But today, most women only stay for a day or two unless they are dealing with some kind of medical complication. It is typically safer and more comfortable for women to return home after giving birth. Hospitals can be chaotic and somewhat germ-y places, and it’s nice to be able to go home with the new family member.
9 Women Were Discouraged From Breastfeeding
According to What to Expect, doctors and mothers alike are aware of the countless benefits of breastfeeding nowadays. It’s especially important for strengthening the baby’s immune system. But there was a period of time when doctors actually recommended formula over breastfeeding—in fact, this was very common until the 1990s. They thought that formula had been designed to be better for babies than breastmilk—but turns out that the human body already had a pretty good system going, and doctors later changed their opinion after seeing many studies that confirmed the benefits of breastfeeding. Now, breastfeeding is more popular again.
8 There Was No Genetic Testing
According to Pop Sugar, many parents today opt for genetic testing before the baby is born to get a good idea of their new son or daughter’s health. It’s always smart to prepare like this in advance of the birth. However, this was not always an option for parents in the past. Many of these important tests were actually only developed in recent years. Being able to learn about a baby’s health in advance like this is a major medical development that has helped many parents. Parents today are lucky to have the option of going through these genetic tests.
7 Women Had To Have Abdominal X-Rays
Pregnant women used to be subjected to some “standard” check ups that actually weren’t too good for the baby. Medical science has advanced by leaps and bounds, and now doctors are much better informed of the risks of some of these procedures. According to Redbook, it used to be common for doctors to give pregnant women abdominal x-rays as part of their examinations. However, they eventually learned later on that the radiation from these x-rays machines could actually affect both the mother and the baby. Now, pregnant women do not get these kinds of x-rays.
6 It Was Assumed That Babies Didn’t Feel Discomfort
Today, everyone knows that babies can feel pain just like adults. Suggesting otherwise would probably sound a little strange—after all, they’re conscious human beings, so of course they can feel pain. But according to Redbook, doctors did not always believe this to be true. In fact, many medical professionals and parents alike assumed that babies did not feel pain, especially when they were first born. As one can imagine, this resulted in babies being treated a bit roughly—people thought they just couldn’t even feel it! Now, parents are very gentle with their new babies, as they should be!
5 Women Didn’t Eat During Labor
Whether or not women should be able to eat during labor is certainly a controversial topic, and according to Evidence Based Birth, up until recently all pregnant women were basically forbidden from eating during labor, especially if they were at the hospital. But now, doctors actually say that it is fine for women with low-risk pregnancies to eat a light meal during labor. Considering that labor can last for quite a while, many women are probably quite thankful to be encouraged to eat something light and healthy. After all, it takes a lot of energy to go through childbirth!
4 Give The Baby Solid Foods Early
According to What to Expect, doctors used to have a very different opinion on the best time to introduce babies to solid foods. They used to recommend giving babies solid foods only a couple weeks after birth! In fact, there were some pregnancy handbooks telling women to give their babies solids after just two or three days after birth. Combine that with the fact that most babies were being fed formula, and those babies could be dealing with some digestive discomfort. Now, doctors generally recommend introducing babies to solids around six months. It is a better time to transition.
3 Drink Several Pints Of Milk Each Day
There are some pretty strict dos and don’ts when it comes to diet during pregnancy. However, there are a few things that doctors used to recommend that simply are no longer deemed necessary. According to Mumsnet, doctors used to tell pregnant women that they should drink several pints of milk each day. Well, nowadays dietitians know that many people are actually lactose intolerant, and dairy can be a no-go for some women because the hormones contribute to acne. If a woman’s skin is already going through hormonal changes because of pregnancy, she probably doesn’t want to have too much dairy.
2 Deliver The Baby While Sleeping
Today, women can opt to get an epidural during labor to help them avoid the most painful moments of childbirth. But according to Redbook, doctors actually used to use a heavy duty medication known as “Twilight Sleep” to put women completely unconscious during labor! Of course, this did not work for all the women who tried it—many of them did wake up. And it did not take long before medical professionals figured out that this really was not the safest idea, and many women were truly uncomfortable with it. Now, the epidural is a woman’s best bet for better labor.
1 Skip Lunch To Stay Slim
Ah, right back to that good old advice on body maintenance. According to Today’s Parent, doctors really used to support the idea that pregnant women needed to be super careful about how much they gained. In fact, some old pamphlets on pregnancy would even advise pregnant women to skip lunch some days if they felt like they were getting too many calories. But come on, when a woman is eating for two, she has to add a little extra to her plate—and definitely needs three meals a day! It’s great that pregnant women are no longer expected to follow that advice.
Sources: mom.me, webmd.com, bbable.com, babycenter.com, momjunction.com, americanpregnancyassociation.com, littlethings.com, mentalfloss.com, popsugar.com, todaysparent.com, whattoexpect.com, mumsnet.com, evidencebasedbirth.com, redbook.com