Tuesday, January 08, 2008


So, my mom saved a pregnancy book that she had when she was expecting my brother who is almost eleven years older than me. It's called a doctor discusses pregnancy, was written by William G. Birch, MD, and was published in 1969. It's missing its cover and several pages in the middle, but I find its entertainment value far too great to warrant tossing it.

I pulled it out tonight and read a few lines of particular interest, so I thought you might enjoy them too.

On page 108, for example, under a heading of "Your Postpartum Checkup" it reads "...If you have been watching your diet and exercising [the doctor] will be proud of you. If you have not, he may frown and emphasize the importance of getting your original figure back. Then you are dismissed." Oh no! Not the frown! ("He" will also reportedly "nod his head in the affirmative" if he is "pleased" that the reproductive organs have returned to their pre-pregnancy forms.)

I was also amused by the mere fact that there is a heading under Chapter 7, "Keeping Up Appearances" that is entitled "Personal Daintiness." It discusses how a "daily dousing under the shower or in the bathtub... will assure personal daintiness" and then continues on to a section on how to "Perk Up Your Skin" followed by "Your Hair" with this insightful advice: "Instead of a weekly shampoo your hair may need washing two or three times a week to keep it fluffy, fresh, and well coiffed. A change in shampoos and hair dressing can recondition your hair to look its loveliest."

Of course the chapter wouldn't be complete without a section titled "Fashions for Service and Camouflage." The second part of that section reads as follows: "A wide variety of 'optical illusion' clothes are available in every big-city department store. You will find many styles listed under 'maternity clothes' in your mail order catalog. If you are handy with a sewing machine, pattern books have hard-to-resist patterns you can whip together quickly and inexpensively." Ha.

Of course if you go back to Chapter 6, "In Training," there is a section on "Smoking and Drinking" which is a perfect exhibition of how times have changed. I particularly like the blurb about alcohol consumption: "There is no evidence that an occasional cocktail before dinner is harmful. Drinking to the point of intoxication is unwise. Besides being unhealthful it kills the aura of loveliness about a woman. It makes her legs rubbery, throws her equilibrium off balance, and makes her highly prone to accidental falls. Being in traction with a broken leg during pregnancy is worse than a jail sentence and a hangover accompanied by nausea is extremely uncomfortable." ...Need I even comment?

There is one more section I must mention, toward the beginning, about pregnancy tests. Thus I will leave you with this final thought to ponder:

"Books on medical history related that women in the earliest recorded civilizations sought tests that would tell them whether they were pregnant. But from ancient Babylon until 1928, no sure method had been devised. Thanks to the research of Doctors Aschheim and Zondek, a simple, almost 100% accurate test for the presence of pregnancy was developed. A small quantity of the woman's urine is injected into a female mouse or rabbit. If the woman is pregnant, a hormone in her urine will cause changes in the animal's ovaries within 48 to 72 hours depending on the animal used. If she is not pregnant the urine will cause no alterations in the animal's ovaries.

"Another test, using frogs, is becoming popular because results may be obtained in from two to ten hours. However it is rarely nececessary to learn so quickly whether pregnancy exists.

"Remember, these tests are simply another diagnostic tool for your doctor to use. Although they are about 98% accurate, they should be coupled with your doctor's observations before pregnancy is definitely established. Your doctor may use other tests in addition to those described."

Yikes! And yet my mother survived it all. =) When I look at that book I do wonder what my pregnancy books will seem like 39 years from now. -I am sure many things will have changed.


Melody said...

Very amusing..and so true how the times change! I hope you have a wonderful labor and birth Sarah! I love the name Gabriel! I can't wait to hear all about his arrival into this world!

Sue said...

Too funny!!