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November 28, 2018

Here Are 17 Crazy Rules Pregnant Women Had to Follow in the 1950s

Back in the 1950s, there were many pregnancy rules that are no longer rules today. Many studies have been conducted over the decades to find what was harmful to pregnant women and what was not was behind the changes. That being said, the rules that pregnant women had to follow in the 1950s are starkly different from the recommendations set out today. Below are 17 crazy rules from the past.

Pregnant girl, 1950s. (Photographer: Philippe Halsman)
1. There weren’t any at home pregnancy tests back in the 1950s. In fact, if you were to be tested for pregnancy, a urine sample would be collected and sent to the lab. The urine would then be injected into a rabbit, and if the rabbit died then that would indicate a “positive” test. Thus comes the phrase “the rabbit done died. ”
2. Smoking and drinking were not discouraged during pregnancy. In fact, it was not uncommon for the doctor to offer his patient a cigarette while they discussed her pregnancy in his office. 
3. All pregnant women were considered frail and prescribed a lot of bedrest during pregnancy. They were also instructed not to reach for things over their head, as this was believed to cause the umbilical cord to wrap around the baby’s neck. 
4. Sitting on cold cement was discouraged because it would cause hemorrhoids. 
5. If you gained too much weight during pregnancy, you were then prescribed a diet pill, which were referred to as “black beauties.” 
6. A previous miscarriage would put you at high risk for pregnancy and were given Thalidomide during pregnancy. In all actuality, this drug causes birth defects in children and often resulted in missing limbs. 
7. It was considered very poor taste for women to attend funerals during pregnancy. 
8. The words “pregnant” and “pregnancy” were not spoken in public, rather were replaced with “expecting,” “with child” and “in the family way. ”
9. A woman stayed in the hospital for at least one week after giving birth. 
10. If you were past your due date, your husband was advised to take you in car ride down a bumpy road, which was believed to induce labor. 
11. After delivery, your husband and family weren’t allowed anywhere near you or the baby until you both were cleaned up. 
12. It was believed that women should not experience any pain during delivery and were often “knocked out” during the process with anesthetic. 
13. In the hospital, the mother was only permitted to see the baby during bottle feedings (breastfeeding was not recommended). 
14. Smoking during the hospital stay was not uncommon and women were provided with ash trays by their bedside. 
15. Fathers and family could only see the baby at the hospital through a glass window in the nursery. 
16. Due to the possibility of germs, no visitors to your house were allowed once you came home with the baby during the first few months. 
17. The baby was not allowed to leave the house until it was baptized.



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