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Expectant Motherhood (1940’s style)

My Aunt Helen (see previous post) also gifted me with a book my grandmother owned.  My grandmother had all her babies at home until her last one–my mother.  I guess grandpa didn’t support a hospital birth but my grandmother had a bad feeling about this birth and secretly saved up her money from selling eggs.  And while we don’t have all the details from my mom’s birth, it was apparently pretty dramatic. 

Anyway, so my grandmother’s book is called Expectant Motherhood and it was first published in 1940.  The preface to the first addition begins like this:

Pregnancy should be a healthy, happy time.  Childbearing is a natural process, the supreme physical function of womanhood; and no other event confers so much in deep-seated, abiding contentment.  As a rule, the greater span of pregnancy is associated with an increased sense of vitality and well-being.  Not a few of the discomforts, which only a few decades ago were regarded as invariable accompaniments of pregnancy and labor, have been tracked to their source and are now amendable to simple preventative measures; even that old bugbear of childbirth, the pain of labor, has been so assuaged that the majority of American mothers today are unconscious of the actual birth of the baby.

I laughed out loud when I read that.  I was really agreeing with the author.  Yes, pregnancy is a time of great health.  Yes, it is a natural process.  Then wham…it is so wonderful that we send you into twilight sleep for the climactic moment! 

The preface to the third edition (1957) encourages women that “having a baby today, provided you are in the hands of a competent doctor, is a much safer undertaking than a long automobile trip.”  And, do try to limit yourself to 10 cigarettes a day! 

Likely more to come from this book.

2 responses »

  1. “That old bugbear?” LOL. Pregnancy books from the 50’s have this hilarious way of trying to put an expectant mom at ease.

    And yeah… Those dolls are strange and a little bit scary, but intriguing. I think I may write about them next. I would never buy one, but I would love to see one in person just once. For the price of a couple of those dolls, you could pay to have a real baby!


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