It’s pretty well known that corsets were worn by most women in the western world in the 19th century, but did you know they were expected to keep wearing them during pregnancy? Yes, maternity corsets were indeed a thing—expectant moms were advised not to tighten their laces too tight, but some did and miscarried.
Soranus, a Greek physician, believed flatulence could harm the fetus (no beans for you, expectant moms!) and also warned that constipation could suffocate a child, while diarrhea could wash it away.
According to The Distaff Gospels, a 15th-century book of old wives’ tales, a woman should not eat fish heads, as her child would be born with a “mouth more pointed than normal.” Eating soft cheese was also considered taboo, as it would cause a boy to have an abnormally small penis and a girl to have a large vagina.
Soranus also believed that women shouldn’t bathe during their first seven days of pregnancy because a bath will “loosen the texture of the whole body” and weaken the fetus. That’s obviously not true (most women don’t even know they’re pregnant in the first week), but don’t let the water get too hot! Avoid baths that can raise your body temperature higher than 102.2° F for more than 10 minutes. A temperature that high can create problems for you and your baby, including, a drop in blood pressure, depriving the baby of oxygen and nutrients and making miscarriage more likely, dizziness and weakness, and birth defects, especially in the first trimester.
Dr. John Harvey Kellogg developed Corn Flakes because he believed bland foods would decrease sexual appetites, which he blamed for all sorts of physical and mental conditions. Unsurprisingly, he didn’t support of sex for pleasure, particularly when a woman was already pregnant. He warned that having sex while expecting would leave “injurious influences upon the child of the gratification of the passions during the period when its character is being formed, is undoubtedly much greater than is usually supposed. We have no doubt that this is a common cause of the transmission of libidinous tendencies to the child.” In other words, getting it on while pregnant will make your child grow up to be a lustful, horny creep.
In the early 1900s, cocaine and champagne were believed to help morning sickness, and opium was used to treat additional pregnancy-related issues. Pabst Brewing Company even marketed their Pabst Extract to pregnant women, promising their malt extract would provide expectant mothers with “nourishment not supplied by ordinary foods.”
The Distaff Gospels warn that if a woman does not submit to her food cravings, her baby may be born without a vital organ (which one, we’re not sure). A 19th-century doctor, John D. West, concurred, warning that failure to give into cravings could result in a baby born with birthmarks.
Like Soranus, Pliny the Elder was a Greek scientist who gave advice on childbirth. He believed the smell of the fat from a hyena’s loins would stimulate delivery and placing the right foot of the animal on the mother would result in an easy birth, but doing the same with the left foot would cause death.
Here’s another old wives’ tale for you—if a woman looks at something, an ugly person, an animal or even a terrible disaster, it will be reflected in the appearance of her child. The Greek physician Hippocrates saved the life of a princess accused of adultery by explaining that she had a black son, not because she cheated on her husband, but because she looked at a picture of a Moor that was hung up near her bed. (Source | Photo)