This section is from the book "The Hygienic System: Fasting And Sun Bathing", by Herbert M. Shelton. Also available from Amazon: The Hygienic System Vol III Fasting and Sun Bathing.
In another volume we have called attention to the fact that chronic "disease," even that form called tuberculosis, frequently abates during pregnancy. Great changes, developmental changes akin to those of puberty and adolescence, take place in a woman's body during pregnancy. Weak hearts, weak lungs, weak kidneys, weak nervous systems are strengthened. Glands long dormant awaken to activity. Her whole body undergoes a strengthening, renovating process.
This is the meaning of the nausea, vomiting, ("morning sickness"), lack of appetite and other symptoms that so many women experience during the early weeks of pregnancy. No woman in good health, who is living sensibly, ever has the slightest trace of these symptoms. No woman who has undergone a thorough renovation just prior to becoming pregnant, and who lives sensibly during this time, ever experiences these "symptoms of pregnancy."
They are not symptoms of pregnancy. They are symptoms of renovation. They indicate that nature is undertaking a house cleaning, that the body is to be put into its best shape preparatory to pregnancy and parturition. If they are heeded all will be well. If they are not heeded, nature will usually succeed in her work in spite of opposition and interference. Sometimes she fails. Always her success is more complete and more satisfactory if we cooperate with her.
The development of these symptoms is a sure sign that a house-cleaning is necessary. When anorexia, nausea and vomiting develop, absolutely no food but water should be taken until these have disappeared and there is a distinct call for food. There should be no fears about fasting. You may be sure that these symptoms will end and nature will call for food as soon as her renovating work is completed and long before there has been any damage to mother or fetus. A fast is just what she is calling for in the plainest possible manner, and a fast she usually gets even if she has to keep throwing the food back into the woman's face as often as she eats it for days. Rest is called for as loudly as the fast and should be had.
If this renovating work is permitted full sway and the woman will eat and live sensibly, afterward, there will be no necessity for another fast during pregnancy. She will continue in good health. But if she "eats for two" (six), and lives the conventional, unhygienic life, she will suffer from a sour stomach, gas, dizziness, headaches, constipation and frequently more serious difficulties. She may develop an acute "disease." In such a case the hygiene of the "disease" is the same as it would be were it to develop in any other period of life. The pregnant woman should not hesitate to fast for as long as nature indicates if she is suffering with an acute eliminating crisis. Let her be assured that to do so will shorten her period of illness, and that it will harm neither her nor her child. On the other hand, to eat will not help either her or the child.
The ridiculous advice to pregnant mothers to "eat for two," is beginning to lose its assumed validity. Suppose a baby weighs nine pounds at birth (three pounds too much); this is an average gain of a pound a month during the period of pregnancy. To meet the requirements of the baby growing at such a relatively slow rate, the mother is urged to eat two, three or more extra pounds of food a day. Instead of this being helpful to her and the evolving baby, it helps to make her sick, provides for a fat, hence oversized baby, reduces the health and elasticity of her tissues, and provides for great pains in childbirth. During pregnancy she has nausea, vomiting, sour stomach, swollen ankles, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, eclampsia, etc., as a consequence of such unintelligent eating.
In vomiting during pregnancy, physicians are afraid of both starvation and dehydration, hence they keep the woman plied with fluids and foods. All manners of clean and unclean things are introduced into the woman's stomach, in addition to the inordinate drugging that usually accompanies such cases when cared for by regular physicians. There should be no wonder that the vomiting continues.
There is no danger of starvation and we may be sure that the vomiting will cease before any marked or dangerous dehydration can occur, providing the woman is not fed. Indeed, in the absence of food, she will usually be able to take water. Nothing succeeds like fasting in morning sickness.
Chronic "disease" should not be handled differently during pregnancy to the manner in which it is handled at other times. The author would object to a long fast in chronic "disease" during this period. There can, however, be no objection to a short fast, but a long fast involves elements that one should seek to avoid.
Dr. Hazzard says: "When a pregnant woman fasts, her tissues, even including such essential ones as the heart and brain, will be utilized as may be necessary to properly nourish the child." This can be true only after the exhaustion of her internal reserves; for, true to the principle that the tissues are sacrificed in inverse order to their importance, the essential organs are not damaged until it becomes necessary to sacrifice them for the child. But a woman does not want to lose her hair, or nails, or teeth, nor should she be asked to where this can be avoided. Under the modern plan of feeding, most women lose a tooth and develop a few cavities during pregnancy, anyway.
A short fast, where one is necessary, or will be of benefit, should be entered upon without hesitancy by the pregnant woman suffering with a chronic "disease," but a long one should be avoided unless acute "disease" makes it necessary. Feeding in acute "disease" does not feed, anyway.