10 ridiculous pregnancy tips from long, long ago
Pregnancy is hard enough as it is, but women back in the day had it far, far worse.
Pregnant women are bombarded with well-meaning advice all the time. Some of them are more legitimate than others. Here’s a bunch of ridiculous things pregnant women were told to do over the years, compiled from Mental Floss and Little Things. After going through this list, you’d probably thank your lucky stars that you’re pregnant in the 21st century!
1. Smoke cigarettes
Even though doctors knew that smoking had negative effects on a growing fetus in the 1920s, they kept it hush-hush, probably because of pressure from tobacco companies. In the ‘40s and ‘50s, tobacco companies even had doctors endorse their products in ads. Some even said that because smoking is relaxing, it must be good for mothers-to-be!
2. Wear a corset
You’d think that common sense would tell you not to constrict your abdomen as it would harm your baby, but plenty of women in the Victorian era wore corsets into their pregnancies. Some corset manufacturers even made “maternity corsets”. These weren’t at all like today’s maternity girdles, which are made to support the bump, but were made to mask it.
3. Don’t get hit by cherries!
This is a little strange, because who on earth would be throwing cherries in the first place? But if you were pregnant in the 15th century, you were probably told to avoid getting hit in the face by “cherries, strawberries, or red wine”, as they’d give your baby unsightly marks.
4. Take chloroform during labor!
Before epidurals, moms were given chloroform or ether to manage their pain. Chloroform inhibits neonatal breathing attempts, making forceps necessary, which could lead to disfiguring the baby. Chloroform could also result in maternal reproductive damage, heart failure, chloroform poisoning, and liver necrosis. But doctors didn’t know that then, and so this was a fairly common practice. (Trivia: Queen Victoria was the very first woman to be given anesthesia during birth.)
5. Look at pretty things
Women used to be believe that the things they looked at would manifest in their babies, even though it makes little sense. But what’s the harm in surrounding yourself with pretty things, right?
6. Sunlight will cook your baby
Pregnant women are more sensitive to UV rays and are more prone to overheating, but women used to be told that sunlight must be avoided at all costs. Thankfully, today you’d just be told to slap on some sunscreen and avoid sunbathing.
7. Don’t have sex with men with stinky feet
Medieval women were led to believe that babies conceived with men who had dirty and stinky feet would inherit their father’s stinkiness. Boys would be born with bad breath, while girls would be born with a stinky butt.
8. Don’t have sex while pregnant
Dr. John Harvey Kellogg warned his patients not to have sex at all while pregnant. This wasn’t because having sex would cause the baby physical harm. He said that having sex would cause the child to inherit “libidinous tendencies.”
9. Don’t watch sports
This advice is a little more recent, coming from the 1940s. Apparently, watching sports could be too much excitement for a pregnant woman.
10. Don’t read
Women were also told to avoid exciting books. Pregnancy must have been so dull!