Women who will eat properly and care for themselves hygienically during pregnancy will not only save their teeth and preserve their health and assure themselves healthy, vigorous children, but they will make childbirth safe, easy and, providing, they are normally developed and live fully right, make childbirth painless.
Some years ago a theory was propounded that as a means of making childbirth easy, even painless, the mother should eat no foods during pregnancy that would harden the forming bones of the fetus. The mother's own bones were also to undergo a softening process in order to decrease the resistance to the passage of the child at birth. It was explained that by a proper course of diet after birth, the bones of both mother and child would quickly recover and the bones of the child would become strong enough to support him.
Fortunately, the practice that grew out of this theory was better than the theory. The diet that was thought best adapted to bring about these desired results, was one of fresh fruits and green vegetables. Apples, grapes, lemons, oranges, figs, raisins and other fruits in season were eaten in abundance. Potatoes, beets and other tubers were excluded for it was thought that foods that grow under ground were less fit for food than the foods growing above ground. An exception was made in the case of onions. All vegetables were used abundantly. Cereals were used exceedingly little. No bread at all was permitted and but little meat. Distilled water was used for drink.
The reader will see that such a diet supplies an abundance of bone-forming material. An excess of bases will be introduced into the body and plenty of vitamins will be present. The mother's bones, teeth and other tissues and her health would not suffer mineral losses due to a commandeering of these by the fetus, as would occur if a diet were fed to secure the effects they set out theoretically to secure. The theory was wrong in principle. The practice was good but not based on the theory itself.
Along with this diet went sunbathing, gymnastics and good general hygiene. The result was that many women, who followed out the complete program, reported absolutely painless childbirths. It is unfortunate that the great majority of women possess so little regard for their own and their children's highest welfare, that only one in ten thousand is willing to forego their favorite indulgencies in order to have painless parturition and a healthy vigorous child. Although I am convinced that childbirth should cause no more pain than swallowing or a bowel movement, in a well-developed woman, I have been able to secure this effect in only one case, due to the fact that I have been able to get but one woman to follow instructions to the letter and not only partially. In this case three prior births had been long and unusually painful. The fourth was over in twenty minutes and was painless.
Women who are poorly developed or deformed, due to faulty food, lack of sunshine, insufficient exercise, and the deforming influence of corsets or other tight clothes, during the period of development, cannot expect perfect results; but all of these, by proper eating and proper care during pregnancy, will have safer and easier births and assure better health in both themselves and their offspring.