There is a fixed constant in the history of humanity and women: motherhood. But what has been changing over the decades is how women play that role in their society. According to Stephanie Coontz, a historian at The Evergreen State College in Washington, and author of the book "A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s," in the 1950s only 19% of mothers with small children went to work, but by 2008 about 60% of women with children under 6 years of age worked. Little details like those are things we sometimes ignore, but they show us what really matters, because it tells us how things have changed through the years. We can see how what previously seemed crazy has become something pretty common. For example, see women working and exercising their roles as mothers at the same time.
And yeah! Women have been breaking paradigms over the years, but just as we have managed to have more freedoms and get the respect we deserve within society, our dreams and goals have changed, including the way we see motherhood. That is why today we will talk in detail about how expectations have changed in this field compared to previous years.
15 Baby Showers Are A Thing Now
The truth is that the Baby Shower tradition is not as new as many women think. Actually, according to Stacey Jane's Nappy Cakes, it originated in Rome and Greece when when moms-to-be were isolated days before and after delivery. After that, society was welcomed again by a party and gifts for the new mother.
But the Baby Shower, more similar to the ones we know became popular thanks to the American upper middle class in the '30s. The author Emily Post describes in her book Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Use, "The rain of storks, then, was just a kind of shower party that the neighbors could host for each other, giving gifts around a chosen theme or for a special occasion." Post further explains that: "the gifts that are given in a stork shower include everything for a new baby", and "there is always a shower of storks in the early afternoon and only intimate girls and girlfriends are invited".
Currently the expectations of these events are much higher. First, everyone is invited and it has become a more inclusive party with men. In addition, the moms-to-be look to excel with these celebrations, so decorations, music, and games are essential.
14 Go Back To Work ASAP
According to Live Science, in the '50s only 19% of mothers with small children worked outside the home. And in past decades, it was expected that the mother would stay at home attending to the children because a woman working was not something well seen in society.
But times have changed and many professional women want to excel in both fields. According to the dol.gov website, more than 57% of women work nowadays. However, some mothers think that after the baby is born they will be able to return to work immediately when the baby is old enough to get in a Daycare, but the reality is that it can be a slower process because each baby is different and adapts a routine between working and the baby is not an easy task.
13 Look Perfect In Pics After Giving Birth
Of course, in the past there were no social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc., so the birth process was something very intimate. It was something that was talked about only among women, and this is because the rates of mortality due to labor was very high, so the last thing women thought about was to look spectacular after having given birth. The main concern was to achieve it without complications in the process and have a healthy baby.
But thanks to advances in medicine, mortality rates have been reduced today, and there are more tools to help women during labor. According to UNICEF, between 1990 and 2000 the chances of death in the world during pregnancy and labor were 1 in 75. Therefore, these new generations of mothers have it easier, and are expected to look good after giving birth in order to have spectacular photos on Instagram.
12 Wearing High Heels During Pregnancy
Just look at the old family photos and you'll realize that in the past, pregnant women wore clothes to cover their bellies. Previous generations always wanted to dress with decorum, besides avoiding at all costs wear tight clothes. In fact, it seemed that the less you noticed that you were pregnant, the better. And believe it or not, in 1909 there was a corset for pregnant women, according to the Racked website, a characteristically Victorian instrument that served to keep a little baby secret and effectively make the pregnancy somewhat invisible. "The pregnancy of [Victorians] was a condition that should be hidden as much as possible, "explains Judith Flanders in Inside the Victorian Home: A Portrait Of Domestic Life In Victorian England.
Luckily, times have changed and now women feel proud to show their pregnant bellies. And why not use heels? Celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Chrissy Teigen and Blake Lively, among others have shown that you can be pregnant and look fashionable, which is why mothers today expect to look like queens during their pregnancies.
11 Be In Shape After Giving Birth
Currently one of the great concerns of mothers is to be in shape or recover after giving birth. Probably social pressure and social networks have something to do with this, which intimidate certain mothers and make them think they should look perfect at all times, as is the case of celebrities such as Kylie Jenner, the youngest of the Kardashian clan who constantly uploads photos showing how she looks after giving birth to her first daughter Stormi Webster, with rapper Travis Scott.
Today, mothers are more aware of what they should eat and what they must do to stay healthy throughout the process. Fit Pregnancy has some practical and healthy tips that mothers can apply to recover their figure faster such as breastfeed, eat healthy snacks and try to include a routine of exercise that is not too heavy.
10 Fashionable Clothes For Babies
Clothing and style, over the decades, has been a fundamental issue in society that has been adapted to the standards of the time. It used to be that mothers focused more on practicality than style for their kids' clothes. In fact, according to the Love To Know website and Colleen R. Callahan, before the early 20th century, clothes worn by infants and young children lacked gender distinction.
Currently, mothers have more freedom when it comes to dressing their babies and there are no regulations for exclusive colors for one gender, so they have more variety and styles to choose from. In fact, most designers and brands have a section of their exclusive clothing line for the youngest members of the house. Therefore, the new generation of mothers expects their children to always look like they are on a magazine cover.
9 Update Instagram Every Moment
We are currently living in an era where people want to share everything that happens in their lives, and of course having a baby is one of those situations in the life of a woman that they want to share with others. Luckily, thanks to platforms like Instagram, nowadays people can share photos and videos in real time.
But the truth is that in the past, mothers were more careful with what they shared with people. In fact, they only took pictures for special occasions, not every 5 minutes. Baby and Bump explain that in the '50s, new parents did not allow visits to the house to meet the baby during the first months because it was feared that the germs that someone brought would make sick the baby. Moreover, in some cases, the baby could not leave the house until he was baptized. Of course, this depends on the religion and belief of the parents. But in the past, parents did not share much information about the pregnancy and the arrival of a baby because it was considered unseemly.
8 Dad Must Be Involved In The Process
This one is not something that only concerns women: nowadays it is expected that men are involved in each stage of pregnancy. Currently, it is expected that the mother's partner participates and gives their opinion. After all, to create a child requires two people.
According to the website Bright Horizons, for men it is usually more complicated to get involved during pregnancy than when the baby is born. If course, there is that emotion and connection with the idea of a baby, but they are not feeling what the mother feels during this process of changes. For these reasons, Bright Horizons recommends a series of ideas to involve the mother's partner in the process, such as preparing emotionally, reading about it, talking about their fears and concerns, doing activities together, maintaining a balanced diet together, attending medical appointments, and creating a routine between both parents and the belly, such as talking to the baby before going to sleep. Finally, both can plan the birth together. The important thing is that parents feel included.
7 Moms Should Take Care Of What They Eat
Believe it or not, it used to be that mothers were not so careful with what they ate and their health. In fact, in the '50s it was common for future mothers to smoke. According to Baby And Bump, in the '50s women could smoke and drink during pregnancy. It was also recommended to mothers who gained a lot of weight to take a diet pill which they referred to as "black beauties".
Currently, technology has allowed advances in this field and now it is known how harmful it can be to consume certain foods during pregnancy. At the same time, mom must understand the importance of eating a balanced diet. According to American Pregnancy, during pregnancy it is necessary to consume 300 extra calories in order to obtain the nutrients that the mother and baby need for their development.
6 Exercising Is Fine
Subjecting a mother to physical activity was, for a long time, considered a taboo subject. It was believed that doing any activity that involved physical effort could mean something dangerous for the mother or the baby. In fact, according to Baby And Bump, in the '50s and earlier, pregnant women were advised to rest a lot because they were believed to be in a very delusional state. They were even advised not to bend down with their head near the ground, since it was believed that this caused the umbilical cord to wrap around the baby's neck.
Nowadays it is known that exercising can be beneficial for the baby and the mother. Fit Pregnancy and Baby explain on their website that exercising during pregnancy has benefits such as reducing the risk of gestational diabetes by up to 27%, labor can be an easier process, the mother has fewer problems with constipation, and improved cardiovascular state. Exercise helps moms avoid stress and anxiety.
5 Improve Baby's Development By Performing Activities
Before, there was not the same information as there is now, thanks to the internet and the advancement of medicine. So it was not known that performing certain types of activities could help the development of the baby. In fact, Baby Center explains that for a long time moms-to-be believed myths like, "If you lift your hands above your head, your baby could be strangled by the umbilical cord" or "You can not take a bath during pregnancy because the dirty water will reach your baby."
Currently, mothers have at their disposal better information on what is recommended during pregnancy, such as paying attention to the food they eat, getting Omega-3s, being mindful of mercury, exercising, avoiding alcohol, putting music to the belly and even creating a routine to talk to the baby to create a connection between parents and the baby. All these things help his development.
4 Bedroom Fun
Getting up close and personal while pregnant is probably one of the most forbidden topics for certain women. The reality is that for a long time, this was considered impossible and thought to hurt the baby, so men kept away from their wives in that regard.
But times have changed, and according to the website Baby Center, you can have fun in the bedroom throughout pregnancy as long as you are not a high-risk pregnancy or your doctor has not forbidden it for a period of time, due to health issues. But the truth is that making love during pregnancy is something super normal and natural. Getting close with your partner will not hurt the baby thanks to the amniotic sac and the strong muscles of the uterus that protect the baby. Besides, he doesn't go nearly deep enough, so it won't reach the baby.
3 Mothers Have More Options To Give Birth
Formerly, women used to give birth in their homes with the help of a midwife. Then the idea of attending hospitals became popular until now, when women have many more options to cover. But the truth is that every decade you discover something new about the process of giving birth and of course thanks to advances in medicine and technology.
In fact, Baby and Bump explain that during the decade of the '50s and '60s it was believed that women should not experience any pain during the birth process, so they were "knocked out" with anesthesia. Mad Men fans may remember the episode where Betty Draper gave birth to Eugene, her third child. The series took a look at the process of childbirth at that time, which was nothing like current times.
Luckily, today's expectant mothers can choose the plan that best suits their expectations, such as hospitals, birthing centers, and home births.
2 Dad Must Be In The Delivery Room
In the past, fathers kept at a distance from the pregnancies of their wives, because it was thought to be something that only women were concerned with, so it was impossible to think that fathers could be present during the labor. According to Baby and Bump, during the 1950s, labor was something that the mother went through only with the doctors and nurses, no one else was allowed to be in the room. The relatives and husbands had to wait in the waiting room. After the baby was born they could see it through a glass in the nursery of the hospital.
But times have changed, and luckily, women nowadays have more options when it comes to choosing their birth plan. And the future dad is expected to be present in the arduous and wonderful process of giving birth. And if the dad wishes it, he can cut the umbilical cord.
1 Keep Their Old Routine
Parents can spend months preparing for the arrival of the baby, but the truth is that after birth many things do not happen as parents expected and learning to adapt to changes is essential, but the reality is that in many cases it is impossible to return to have the routine that the parents had before.
Baby Center advises parents to start creating a routine for the baby such as naps and food regularly, as well as fun activities as soon as possible. Once your day is better regulated, parents can establish a bedtime and teach the baby the difference between day and night. All these small details will help when the mother has to return to work and will make sure that the end of maternity leave does not mean an emotional shock for the baby. It is essential that, by the end of maternity leave, parents have learned to read the cues of their baby in order to learn to solve problems in a friendly way, before the time comes to return to work.
References: Cosmopolitan.com, Livescience.com, Steadfastcreative.com, Brighthorizons.com, Americanpregnancy.org, Fitpregnancy.com, Racked.com, Babycenter.com, Staceyjanesnappycakes.com.au, Huffingtonpost.com, Babyandbump.momtastic.com, Unicef.org, Fashion-history.lovetoknow.com