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More from birth in the 50’s

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Remember this post about my grandmother’s pregnancy book?  How modern medicine has taken away that old “bugbear” childbirth pain?  I’ll be posting a few tidbits as I re-read Expectant Motherhood.

“There is no reason for believing that a woman who smokes moderately, let us say ten cigarettes a day, need change her custom.  If you have been used to smoking considerably more than this for several years, by no means try to give them up in pregnancy.  There is no surer way of upsetting the nerves at a period when you should be calm and happy, or of converting a placid, sweet-tempered girl into an intolerable shew.”

“Sexual Intercourse:  Under no circumstances is sexual intercourse permissible during the last month of pregnancy.  This is one rule which is extremely important and absolute.  Prior to the last month of pregnancy, intercourse is harmless in moderation.”

There were only two pregnancy tests available.  The first, “a sound and trustworthy test” involved injecting the woman’s morning urine into a mouse or rabbit.  Within 48 hours, if the woman is pregnant, the ovaries of the animal change.  But it is expensive.  The second, “the frog test” involved injecting a South African toad with the woman’s urine.  Within 18 hours, if the woman is pregnant, the toad lays eggs. 

Or, they could perform an x-ray around the fifth month. 

The physician will check for syphilis.  “Ten years ago this disease was among the ‘unmentionables’ and even to hint that a patient might have it constituted a grave offense.  We realize today that a certain number of cases are traceable to other means of exposure such as kissing and the use of public drinking cups–the so-called ‘syphilis of the innocent.'”

More to come.

2 responses »

  1. Yowza!!! Makes you wonder what absurd medical advice/practices someone will be bloging about 60 years from now! Actually, come to think of it, you could probably do a pretty good job at bloging about that now…!

  2. I think I have this book too. I found it at Goodwill and had to have it. It is funny to read, but not really all that different from What to Expect When you are Expecting, minus the cigarette thing.


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