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Rules and Regulations during Pregnancy

In general there is no reason why a pregnant woman should modify her accustomed way of life. A hundred years ago this article might have included a long list of admonitions against the more strenuous activities of those days; but twentieth-century living is, comparatively speaking, so sedentary that today's advice on this score must consist mostly of reassurances to the effect that you can carry on as usual. Yet there are still a few minor restrictions imposed upon your behavior by the pregnant state with which you should be acquainted. Most of these are so elementary that they will occur to you instinctively.

DIET

As a pregnant woman your most important responsibility is the management of your diet. Problems of a purely medical nature will be managed by your doctor. He will also advise you about your diet, but ultimately the responsibility for what you eat is yours alone.

Most of us eat pretty much whenever, whatever, and however we please. And, by and large, if we are exposed to good food there is not a significant discrepancy between what we want to eat and what we should eat. As long as we eat three meals a day our health is rarely affected. Not so in pregnancy. Two very vitally different factors are at work then: there is a natural tendency for the pregnant woman to eat too much, and hence to gain too much, and the average diet is deficient in some of the elements which are essential to the growing fetus.

Let us, therefore, consider the weight problem and the nutrition problem separately and in some detail. First, the control of your weight. To begin with it is important to understand certain basic principles:

(1) during pregnancy there is normally an insidious increase in appetite;

(2) this increase in appetite, if combined with the average pre-pregnancy eating habits, will usually result in an excessive gain in weight;

(3) the greatest weight gain for which the pregnancy itself (the fetus, the placenta, the amniotic fluid, the enlargement of breasts and uterus) can be held accountable is about fifteen pounds;

(4) any gain in excess of this amount is apt to be in the form of body fat, which will be difficult to lose later; and

(5) there is a direct correlation between excessive weight gain and the occurrence of toxemia of pregnancy, which can have harmful effects upon both you and your baby.

Permissible Weight Gain. The basic rule followed by most obstetricians today is that a pregnant woman should not be permitted to gain more than twenty pounds in excess of her ideal weight. This means that an underweight woman who normally weights ninety-five pounds but should weigh 110 pounds may be permitted to gain thirty-five pounds; that a woman who should and does ordinarily weigh 120 pounds should be permitted to gain twenty pounds; and that a woman who weighs 180 pounds and is forty pounds over her ideal weight should be allowed to gain nothing. There are extreme examples, but they are nonetheless valid.

You may feel that too much is being demanded of the 180-pound woman, that it is impossible to go through a nine-month pregnancy without gaining weight. Then it will surprise you to learn not only that it is feasible but that it is often done by cooperative overweight women. The actual intake of calories has virtually nothing to do with the normal growth of a fetus. If the mother weighs 180 pounds at the beginning of pregnancy and sticks to a strict diet with supplementary vitamins and minerals for nine months, she can actually lose weight and yet give birth to a healthy seven- or eight-pound baby. Her pregnancy will involve less risk, her delivery will be somewhat easier, and, furthermore, she may leave the hospital weighing only 160 pounds.

The average patient, of course, does not have a dietary problem of this magnitude. There are a few lucky women - very few – who can continue to eat all they want without gaining excessively. The vast majority of women, however, will find that they gain too much if they eat whatever they like whenever they like. If your weight when you became pregnant was let us say 120 pounds and your doctor tells you that you should weight about 140 when you deliver, this means that you can afford to gain an average of about two pounds a month. Most of this will inevitably be gained during the latter half of pregnancy, when the fetus puts on most of its weight, and so you should restrict your calories accordingly. In other words you should try to gain only two or three pounds during the first three months, for you may unavoidably gain about eight pounds during each of the last two trimesters.

Will Power. And how can this objective be accomplished if you find that you are gaining too much? The answer is twofold: will power and common sense. Surely there has been sufficient dissemination by now of the knowledge that weight gain is purely a matter of caloric intake. There are, of course, rare cases of obesity due to glandular disorders, but these disorders usually prevent a woman from becoming pregnant, so this cannot be the answer. If you are gaining too much, you are eating too much. And the first step in correcting this tendency involves nothing more nor less than will power. What is so horrible about being a little hungry once in a while? Ignoring a hunger pang now and then should not be regarded as an unreasonable hardship.

Common Sense. As for what type of diet to follow, this is where common sense enters the picture. It is all too easy to find long lists of permissible foods, forbidden foods, and sample diets; but given the same list one woman will gain five pounds and another will gain twenty-five in the same amount of time. One of the obvious reasons for this is that there are all sorts interpretations to such simple instructions as “a small helping of potatoes.” Actually weighing your food and calculating the calories will work, but it takes all the fun out of eating. The Weight Watchers organization seems to succeed with those who are willing to exert a little self-control. Dietary fads, on the other bands, are apt to do more harm than good.

A Simple Diet. The simplest, easiest dietary restrictions, which should prove adequate for the weight control of the average pregnant woman, consist of the virtual elimination of starches, sweets, and fatty food. Starches, which include bread, potatoes, rice, and spaghetti, provide calories and little else; that is to say, they are almost pure carbohydrate and contain virtually no essential vitamins, minerals, or proteins. The same may be said of sweets, which include most desserts, soft drinks, and sugar of any kind. As for fats (fried foods, butter, fatty meats, salad dressings, etc.), there is a trick involved here. Every gram of protein or carbohydrate, the only two other basic types of food, provides four calories; one gram of fat, on the other hand, provides nine calories. And, too, one can practically eliminate fat from the diet without sacrificing the principles of good nutrition.

“What is there left to eat?” you may ask. “You have taken away my bread and potatoes and all of my desserts and these are the things I like most.” Well, practically all of the worthwhile foods are left and, at the risk of sounding like Pollyanna, I can tell you that most of them taste pretty good too. There are eggs, cheese, lean meat, fruits, vegetables, and skimmed milk, to name but a few. These are the foods which should be concentrated upon in pregnancy; they are best for you and for your baby.

Between-meal snacks should also be avoided. If you get hungry, chew some gum or much on a carrot. Or you may prefer to drink some or all of your milk quota between meals.

These suggestions, of course, will not apply to all women. Some will need stricter dietary regulation than others. But, by and large, most women will profit from this sort of simple will-power-and-common-sense program. If it seems unduly severe to you, you are probably one of those who will profit most by following it. After all it is, as pointed out before, one of the very few restrictions that are placed on a pregnant woman's life and the results are well worth whatever little gastronomic sacrifice you have to make.

Calories. Aside from the application of will power and common sense, an understanding of some of the basic principles of good nutrition will help you to control your weight and to provide proper nourishment for the growth of the fetus.

The pregnant woman should consume no more than a maximum of 2500 calories a day. Her precise caloric needs will vary, of course, with her original weight and her daily activities. Obese women must be limited, sometimes to as few as 1200 calories, but this is a matter for the doctor to decide.

If you are mathematically inclined, buy yourself a calorie chart and calculate the number of calories in your diet every day for a week. You are probably in for some surprises. Contrast, for example, the number of calories in a serving of carrots (45) or spinach (25) or a glass of skimmed milk (65) with those in a cream cheese and jelly sandwich (350), a slice of chocolate layer cake (368), or a helping of spaghetti with tomato sauce (271). It doesn't take much of the latter types of food to reach the 2500 limit.

Milk. Milk is the most nearly perfect food we have. Every pregnant woman should drink a quart of milk every day. If you don't care much for it, drink what you can and use the rest in your cooking. And remember that skimmed milk contains all of the protein, calcium, and iron found in whole milk, with only half the calories.

Some pregnant women nowadays are worried by the increasing amounts of radioactive strontium 90 reported to be found in milk due to the testing of atom bombs. Rest assured that these “increasing amounts” are still infinitesimal and harmless to both you and your fetus.

Food Preparation. The caloric content of food is considerably increased by frying. It is better to boil, broil, and roast. And the vitamins and minerals in fruits and vegetables are slowly lost in the process of cooking, soaking, or even exposure to the air. It is therefore preferable to eat fruits and vegetables fresh and raw.

Vitamins. Generally speaking, it is virtually impossible for anyone who eats three fairly sensible meals a day to develop a vitamin deficiency. Yet thousands upon thousands of Americans consume vitamin pills daily in the misguided conviction that they would otherwise develop anything from beri-beri to a common cold. Paradoxically, but not surprisingly, it is usually those who eat most sensibly who succumb to the vitamin craze.

In pregnancy the same facts pertain with one important difference. The vitamin needs of a pregnant woman are increased, yet she is often compelled to reduce her caloric intake. Ideally, in her effort to diet, she should concentrate upon the very foods (lean meat, eggs, skimmed milk, fruits, and vegetables) which are low in calories and high in vitamin content. But in case she errs in this effort the damage will be doubled, since there are two bodies involved. And whereas the harm to the mother will be transitory and correctable, the effect of even a brief episode of vitamin lack may be permanent and serious to the growing fetus.

It is for these reasons that the diet of a pregnant woman should be supplemented with daily vitamin tablets. If taken religiously, these tablets will supply a surfeit of every vitamin known to be essential and a few more besides. The importance of these supplements is directly proportional to the stringency of the diet.

Iron and Calcium. Most vitamin preparations for the pregnant woman contain iron and calcium in the same pill. These elements are not ordinarily present in even a well-balanced diet in amounts sufficient to meet the demands of pregnancy. Calcium is essential to the formation of fetal bone; its primary source in the diet is, of course, milk. Iron is found in most meats (especially liver), turkey, spinach, egg yolks, clams and oysters, rolled oats, and whole-wheat bread; it is essential to the formation of maternal and fetal hemoglobin, the substance in the red blood cells which is responsible for the transportation of oxygen from the lungs to the body tissues.

There is a decided advantage to seeking a dietary source of iron. For some reason the human stomach is better able to absorb iron from food than from pills. Only a small percentage of medicinal iron reaches the blood stream, where it is needed. So eat your liver and your spinach too.

Fluoride. There is growing evidence that dental caries in children can be largely prevented by the ingestion of fluoride during a mother's pregnancy, followed by continued intake of fluoride by the child. Prenatal capsules are now available with and without fluoride. In areas where the water contains sufficient fluoride, the capsule should be fluoride-free, for, too much of the stuff may cause mottling of the child's teeth.

Fluids and Salt. There is virtually no condition which might arise in any pregnancy that should entail the reduction of your daily intake of fluids. Of course most fluids except water contain calories (one beer: 169 calories) and these must be limited; but fluid per se will not hurt you.

Salt is a different matter. During the last three months of pregnancy every woman should reduce the amount of salt she puts on her food. And if there is any tendency for the ankles or hands to swell, salt should be largely eliminated from the diet. It is, in short, the salt and water, not the water alone, which produces the fluid retention seen in so many pregnant women; this fluid retention is manifested by swelling of the bands and feet and is closely related to toxemia of pregnancy.

The sources of salt are many. They include the salt-cellar on the dining table, the salt used in cooking, salted foods such as peanuts and crackers, salty foods such as bacon and ham, and the salt which is added to most processed meats and cheese, canned vegetables, condiments and cereals. A “salt-poor” diet, which is usually sufficient to correct fluid retention, entails elimination of all of these salt sources. A “salt-free” diet, which is rarely necessary in pregnancy, involves the use of salt-free bread and butter as well.

Salt substitutes may be purchased upon the advice of your doctor if salt-free is unpalatable to you. Since the harmful element in salt (sodium chloride) is the sodium the “avoidance of salt” also implies the avoidance or baking soda (sodium bicarbonate).

CIGARETTES, ALCOHOL, AND DRUGS

Alcoholic beverages are permissible during pregnancy if not imbibed to excess.

Recent studies have shown that heavy smokers tend to have smaller babies and, in general, the heavier the smoking the smaller the baby is apt to be. I doubt this contributes significantly to infant deaths, but it is probably wise for pregnant women at least to reduce their use of tobacco.

Many women are afraid to take medicine while they are pregnant. I guess this fear stems largely from the thalidomide scare in 1963. It is ridiculous. Thalidomide, the one drug known to cause fetal deformity, was ever sold in this country. And since 1963 our FDA has become even more stringent in its protection of pregnant women. Believe me, there is not a single non-prescription drug that will have an adverse effect on you or your baby. And obviously your obstetrician is not going to let you take the occasional prescription drugs (tetracycline, for example) that may be harmful.

DOUCHING, INTERCOURSE, AND TUB BATHS

It is almost impossible to inflict damage upon a fetus lying in a womb. It is so well protected by fluid and membranes and the womb itself, as well as the abdominal wall and the bony pelvis, that it is virtually immune to injury.

This being true, it follows that the simple acts of douching and sexual intercourse can hardly be expected to cause trouble. It is said that there is wisdom in refraining from intercourse at the time of the first three expected periods, that is, at the time when these periods would have occurred in the absence of pregnancy, but even this belief is without foundation. It is probably advisable to abstain during the last few weeks of pregnancy, not so much because of the fear of injury as because of the possibility of introducing bacteria into the birth canal at a time when labor may be imminent. Sometimes, of course, these general rules must be modified to suit an individual case.

There is no sense in douching during pregnancy (or at any other time, for that matter) unless there is a specific reason. If you notice an unusual amount of discharge or a feeling of irritation in the region of the vagina, you should consult your obstetrician. He may recommend a douche, and there is no danger in douching during pregnancy if you know how. Generally speaking, the most effective and economical solution with which to douche consists of two tablespoonfuls of white vinegar in a quart of warm water. You should lie down on your back in the bathtub with the douche bag suspended no more than two feet above the bottom of the tub. The nozzle should be introduced no more than two or three inches into the vagina. A bulb syringe should never be used.

The only harm that might result from taking a shower or a tub bath at any time during pregnancy is that the pregnant woman, in her top-heavy state, might slip and fall on the tile. Ideally there should be a grab bar on the wall and a rubber mat on the bottom of the tub. Believe it or not, water does not enter the vagina during a tub bath.

WORK

Since riveting and ditch-digging are rarely performed by American women, there is almost no field of endeavor which cannot be pursued during pregnancy in this country. Surely no harm will come to you from washing the dishes or taking dictation. The principal detriment to be derived from work is the fatigue involved and this usually stems from commuting back and forth or from prolonged sitting in one position. Aside from this fatigue there is no reason why pregnant women shouldn't work, but because of it most women prefer to stop at about the seventh month. A student in medical school underwent the rigors of raising one child, commuting to school, and attending all labs and classes for nine months. She then disappeared from a lecture one day and had her second baby an hour later. She has since had a third while combining motherhood with the active practice of medicine.

REST

To say that a pregnant woman needs eight hours: sleep is platitudinous. Everyone needs eight hours sleep. The requirements for rest during pregnancy are basically no different from those in the non-pregnant state. During the last six or eight weeks, however, the pregnant woman may tire more easily, especially if she has children to care for. She may then profit from an afternoon nap.

EXERCISE

There are three types of physical exercise to be considered during pregnancy: the everyday activities such as walking, the more strenuous exertion of sports, and the formal calisthenics such as those recommended in natural-childbirth programs. It would of course be wise to avoid deep-sea diving, mountain climbing, and bullfighting, but there is no harm inherent in swimming or tennis or touching your toes. (Nor will your stooping or stretching cause the fetus to be strangled by its umbilical cord.) On the other hand it would be hard to say that any form of exercise is mandatory or even significantly beneficial. I have known women who have swum a mile every day for nine months and I have known others who have, for no valid reason, never stepped out of bed; if there is any difference in the health, the figures, or the labor patterns of these two groups it is imperceptible.

Everyday Activities. As for everyday activities, therefore, if you want to walk, walk; if you want to drive, drive; and if you want to stay home, stay home.

Sports. If you are proficient at tennis or swimming or even horseback riding, go to it. Your common sense will dictate that you avoid rough terrain in riding, for falls of any kind are to be avoided. And you will hardly want to take up a new and vigorous sport such as skiing at this time.

Calisthenics. Calisthenics seem to appeal to some people more than others. You will read in the newspaper one day about a ninety-seven-year-old man who attributes his longevity to a hundred pushups a day, and then you Will read of another who thinks he is still alive because he drank a quart of whisky a day and avoided exertion like the plague. You will likewise meet women who stoutly maintain that everything from a good figure to painless childbirth can be achieved through a ritualistic schedule of exercises, and others who are equally successful without ever lifting their languorous limbs.

Formalized exercises constitute an integral part of natural-childbirth programs. Patients are told how to relax during contractions in the first stage of labor, how to bear down with contractions in the second stage. These are not “exercises” in the normal sense; they are not meant to strengthen muscles. Rather they are intended

(1) to inform the patient so that she will know how to participate in the labor process,

(2) to condition the patient so that it will be easier for her to perform these simple functions under stress, and

(3) to distract the patient so that she will concentrate upon what she is doing rather than upon what is happening to her.

In a sense, then, the ritualistic performance of these exercises amounts to a form of self-hypnosis.

One of the tenets of the British and American schools of natural childbirth is that the patient should learn how to breathe with her diaphragm rather than her chest during first-stage contractions. Proof of the fact that psychology plays a more important role than physiology in the rationale of these exercises lies in the fact that the French and Russian schools insist that chest rather than abdominal breathing is beneficial, yet all four schools are equally successful in accomplishing the same aim.

TRAVEL

I doubt that there is any group other than traveling salesmen who are more on the go than pregnant women. Either they are going home to show the folks their tummies and have their mothers coddle them or they are taking a trip in the realization that they will be tied down after Junior arrives. Often they get around to asking their obstetricians if it is all right to go after they have already made their plans or reservations. It would behoove them to ask a little sooner.

In general, travel is permissible during pregnancy, but several factors must be considered first, such as the length of the trip, the mode of transportation, and the stage of pregnancy. It is doubtful that a long car ride, for example, will induce a miscarriage or incite the onset of labor; but what are you to do if you do start to bleed or if your water does break or if you do go into labor 500 or 1,000 miles from home? These and other accidents can happen unexpectedly at any time or place, and it is sometimes quite a mess when they happen where medical care is unavailable or where the doctor that you do find is strange to you and vice versa.

For this reason, if no other, it is wise when you are pregnant:

(1) not to take unnecessary trips,

(2) not to go too far or for too long a time,

(3) to find a new doctor if you plan to stay put for a while away from home,

(4) to arrange your trips during the middle months of pregnancy when you are least likely to abort or to deliver, and

(5) to show preference for plane rather than train, and train rather than car.

It is also advisable, if you must go by car, to travel a maximum of about 200 miles per day and to stop frequently in order to get kinks out of your back and legs. Don't go farther than 100 miles during the last month. And consult the airline before making a reservation late in pregnancy; some of them have regulations against taking too-pregnant passengers.

MOVING AND PAINTING

In planning for an addition to the family, many expectant parents find it necessary to move into larger quarters or at least to redecorate the ones they have. It stands to reason, therefore, that if moving or redecorating is harmful to pregnant women a great many pregnant women are being harmed, and this, in turn, seems unlikely. It is obvious that a pregnant woman should not take a very active part in the actual moving process. She is already carrying her share of the weight. So let the men do the work.

Fresh paint was unhealthy for the pregnant and the non-pregnant alike in the days when most paint contained lead. In these days of rubber-based paint and water-based paint this risk no longer exists.

CLOTHES

There seems little point in reminding you that pregnant women should dress comfortably and attractively. But there are a few minor matters worth mentioning in this connection.

Circular garters interfere with circulation of the blood in the legs. Don't wear them. Wear panty hose or a garter belt. Or go bare legged.

Many pregnant women develop varicose veins. The best treatment of this condition aside from elevation of the legs, is elastic stockings. Elastic stockings are not pretty, but they are a healthful temporary measure; varicose veins are not pretty, but they are permanent and unhealthy. If you wear elastic stockings, wear them all the time in spite of your vanity. Generally speaking, the thicker and uglier they are the more effective they are.

Most women do not need to wear a girdle during pregnancy. You may wear your ordinary girdle during the first four or five months if you want to fit into your ordinary clothes a little longer. After this you will be wearing maternity clothes, and if you have unusually weak back or abdominal muscles your doctor may advise you to wear a specially fitted maternity girdle; this is rarely necessary, especially during a first pregnancy.

Good support of the breasts during pregnancy is important during the first few and the last few months, when the breasts swell the most. So invest early in some good strong maternity brassieres and wear them at these times - night and day if your breasts are at all uncomfortable. Take them to the hospital, too, for you will need them while you are learning to nurse.

Flat-heeled shoes put less strain on the back in pregnancy. They also make for a little safer walking. They are, therefore, somewhat preferable to high-heeled shoes; but, on the other hand, many strong-backed, well-balanced women wear high heels for nine months and seem to get away with it.

Wear loose-fitting clothes. Don't try to hide your pregnancy. Pregnant women are beautiful.

TEETH

The fetus needs calcium to form bone. That's why you should drink milk and/or take calcium pills. But even without these precautions, the fetus is not going to rob your teeth of their calcium; it will harmlessly pilfer the stuff from your bones. So don't listen to your grandmother's admonition about “a tooth for every child.” It is nonetheless sensible to see your dentist early in pregnancy, for it is especially important to be in good health from head to toe when two lives depend on it. If your dentist wants to fill or pull your teeth or give you Novocaine or gas, let him.

BREAST AND SKIN CARE

The stretch marks or striae which form on breasts and abdomen are unpreventable. They are one of the badges of motherhood. If the stretching of the skin causes any discomfort, however, feel free to anoint yourself With lanolin or cocoa butter or baby oil these might help. If your skin itches, tell your doctor.

Ordinarily no preparation is necessary to ready the breasts for nursing. If your nipples are inverted (turned in or unduly flat), it is probably worthwhile to draw them out manually every day during the last few months.

VACCINATIONS

Every child and adult should be protected against infantile paralysis by taking the poliomyelitis vaccine. If you haven't had it, now is a good time to get it, for you will be seeing a doctor over an extended period of time and it is at present advisable to have three or four vaccinations over a nine-month interval. There is no increased likelihood that you will contract polio during pregnancy, but it is wise to be protected just in case.

It used to be customary to give influenza vaccine to pregnant women, but new evidence suggests that it doesn't work. And since the vaccine itself is apt to make you feel sick, it is probably better not to have it.

German measles (rubella) and small pox vaccinations should not be given during pregnancy, for they can harm the fetus. The rubella vaccine may even be harmful when given a month or two before conception.

THE FATHER AND THE GRANDMOTHER

The Father. It is hoped that prospective fathers as well as mothers will read this article. Those of you who do so will already have proved your interest in the pregnancy, so it would be superfluous for me to remind you that this pregnancy is half yours. As for a more precise definition of your role, this should be pretty much instinctive. The simple truth must be equally obvious to both of us, namely that, no matter how active you would like to be in sharing this experience with your wife your role became indisputably passive the moment the egg was fertilized, or shortly before. Your job now is to manifest just the right combination of husbandly attentiveness, masculine reserve, paternal devotion, and scientific curiosity.

A few tips: remind her to take her Vitamins, don’t scold her for forgetting; encourage her to diet, don‘t chide her for overeating; buy her maternity clothes don't criticize her appearance. You can't carry the fetus, but you can press your ear to it and hear its heartbeat. You can't experience the labor, or delivery, but you can at least demonstrate the right amount of interest sympathy, or pride in what's going on. You can buy her flowers after it's over, you can help ready the house for their arrival, and you can learn to change and bathe the baby. Perhaps “in the old country” the husband did none of these things. But this is twentieth-century America, where the husband is expected to help out.

The Grandmother. As for prospective grandmothers, it is difficult to convince some of them that their role has become a passive one and it is impossible to convince others that they should play any role at all. Rare is the pregnant woman's mother who knows when to come in and when to stay out of the picture. But now is the time for you to try to define your mother's role m your life if you haven't already and if you ever hope to. Often this step requires courage on the part of the prospective mother and her parent. Suffice it to say that if you’re going to have a baby you're grown up. Don’t bring your mother to the doctor's office every time, don’t live with her if you can help it and don't listen to her advice in preference to your obstetrician's. Maybe you’ve been married only a few months and you’ve lived all of your life under your mother's wing. Well, now your primary duty is to your husband and your unborn baby, not to your mother, and this is an opportune time to make this clear to all concerned.

Does this attitude seem cruel to you? Most women won’t need this advice at all; it is for those of you who think it is cruel that this advice is intended. You are not a baby anymore; you are going to have a baby. Some day your child will grow up and leave you too. This is the framework of our civilization: the marriage unit.

If your husband is a student and doesn't have a dime he should work nights and you should work too. You'll be happier in the long run if you can (and you can) assume financial as well as emotional independence of your parents. If they are well-to-do and insist on buying you a washing machine, you might do well to accept with thanks, but don't let them subsidize whole pregnancy.

And finally we come to the paradox whereby most new mothers need some immediate help when they first bring the baby home. Call on Grandmother now, by all means. This is what she is for. She can be a source of great comfort and aid during the first week or two of motherhood. She can help with the cooking and the dusting she can show you how to change a diaper, and she can tell you how you cried all night for the first three months. But it's your baby. Remember that. Don’t raise your child exactly as your mother raised you.

PACKING A BAG

Sometime during the last month of pregnancy every woman seems mysteriously compelled to pack a bag. This is an instinctive compulsion which baffles most men, including me, but its very universality seems to justify it.

Regardless of any preconceived ideas you might have about labor-room activities, I can assure you that you will need none of your own belongings while you are in labor. As a matter of fact, upon your very first encounter with a labor-room nurse she will ask you to relinquish all of your clothes, jewelry, and even your false teeth. You will be given a hospital gown, which is much more practical than your own nightie.

After you return to your own room you may prefer to have your own maternity brassieres, nightgowns, bathrobe, slippers, cosmetics, toilet articles, and reading material. If not, however, the hospital can probably supply you with all of these things and it will surely provide clothes for the baby and a limitless supply of soap, sheets, and sanitary napkins. In most hospitals, radios and television sets can be rented, books borrowed, and newspapers subscribed to. Hospitals are a lot like hotels in many ways; they are usually equipped to cater to the simplest and the most exacting tastes.

So pack your bag, pack it a month early, and put into it whatever you like. If in the last minute rush you forget to take it with you, you will probably get along just as well without it, but in the meantime it will serve to symbolize the inevitable end of the pregnancy process.

Health | Reproduction | Pregnancy


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