Advice to pregnant women 100 years ago, may not have been so different than advice today, with a few twists.
We now say that you shouldn’t drink at all in pregnancy, but back then it was thought that drinking ale increased iron, and thus that was the recommendation for pregnant women to avoid anemia!
Historically there was a belief that should a pregnant woman see an ugly or terrifying object it can be reproduced in the offspring. Now we know there’s a physiologic basis for PTSD which is not healthy for pregnancy, but can’t really produce anatomic changes.
The idea has persisted from antiquity, and was discussed In the Text of Lectures of Interest to Women by the Maternity Hospital Corporation in 1920. This text has extensive discussion regarding the perfect health for women and their developing fetus. They suggest that pregnant women should be surrounded with agreeable and cheerful companions, should be guarded from all worries, as well as from shocks and surprises. Who knew all manner of these shocks and surprises on social media that is almost impossible to avoid.
100 years ago women were especially discouraged from the reading of such medical books that describe the anatomy and physiology of the female pelvic organs. This they suggest should all be read before pregnancy, and we do feel a pregnancy planning visit is very important!. They were also careful to discourage women from taking up mental or intellectual studies with the view that the child’s intellect could be affected. They say that should these things not be followed the baby could be “marked” by the evils the mother has witnessed.
We still ascribe to the thought that a happy pregnancy is the most successful one, and that happy music and talking to the baby can make an impression: an extremely good one!