This section is from the book "Married Love: A New Contribution to the Solution of Sex Difficulties", by Marie Carmichael Stopes. Also available from Amazon: Married Love: A New Contribution to the Solution of Sex Difficulties.
A woman who is bearing a child by the man she deeply loves, has an intense longing that he should share, so far as is possible, in influencing that child while it is coming, and that he should be as near and as close to it and to her as is possible. The basis of this longing we may well imagine may be not only a tender sentiment of the brain, but may depend on that fine sensual interchange of ultra-microscopic particles which must take place between skin and skin during physical contact, the idea of which is so beautifully foreshadowed in Carpenter's "Love's Coming of Age."
A woman who is bearing a child should not-- indeed, she cannot--have the intensest form of muscular orgasm, but this subtler and deeper sweetening and harmonising union has not only a romantic justification, but will, I think, be proved by Science, when Science becomes sensitive enough to handle such delicate things, to have a real bio-chemical basis.
As so many people lack a due visualising imagination, perhaps I should add that the ordinary position of union is not suitable--indeed, may be very well most harmful--to a woman during this time; but she and her husband can easily so intertwine themselves that the weight of both is lying upon the bed or upon pillows, and so no pressure falls upon the woman.
Although it is out of the province of this book to give advice about the more material and better- » known details of the'general management of the health of the prospective mother, yet there are one or two very important points generally overlooked which profoundly affect both the woman's health and happiness, and may affect also the child. For instance, leading medical experts are in the habit of considering the " morning sickness" which is so usual in the early months of pregnancy as a " physio ■ logical process," and to look upon it complacently as perfectly normal and to be endured as a matter of course. This marks a deplorably low standard of health. Why should this comparatively small but nauseating experience accompany what should be among the most rapturously beautiful months of a woman's life ? In my opinion there is no reason for this at all, except that medical men have been blind leaders of the blind; accustomed always to deal with invalids or semi-invalids, they have lost the instinct to demand of humanity a high and buoyant state of health, while women so harried by the undue drains of unregulated sex experience, with vitality so lowered by " civilised " life, have seen one another suffering on all sides until they too have lost the racial memory of radiant bodily beauty and health.
Here and there an exceptional woman has gone through the months of pregnancy with no handicap, with not even morning sickness. Instead of looking upon her as an enviable exception, as all do now, look upon her as the normal standard which all should attain! One of the aids to attaining this standard for every prospective mother would be the knowledge by all adult women that, directly they know they are bearing a child, they should instantly discard not only all corsets, but all clothes of every kind which are heavy and close or which have any definite ba/ids or tight fastenings. Specialists are content to say no harm accrues if a woman wears " comfortable " corsets until the third or fourth month. I denounce this as misleading folly. The sensitiveness to pressure, often unconscious, at such a time is extraordinary, and the penalty of even the lightest pressure is tha morning sickness. The standard of clothing should be so light, so loose, that a butterfly could walk upon the bare skin beneath the clothes without breaking its wings. This 1 may seem exaggerated to nearly everyone, but it is a very profound truth.
Another aid to buoyant health during this time is to add to the diet the largest possible amount of uncooked fruit, particularly oranges, plums, and apples.
Various books have been written on the health in pregnancy, though few of these are enlightened. Although one must deplore the many mistakes in elementary chemistry which are made therein, by far the best of the books on this subject known to me is Dr. Alice Stockham's " Tokology." In this book it is only such comparative trifles as the calling of carbonaceous material carbonates which, though sufficient to prejudice the scientific mind against the rest of her work, does not really affect the profound truth of the gist of her message--a message which was first,given to the public by "a wise old Englishman long ago.
Owing partly to the incredible ignorance of our bodily structure in which it is possible for a grown man or woman not only to enter marriage but to be married for years, sometimes apparently childless unions are not in any sense due to the incapacity of either partner for parenthood, but are due sometimes to trifling impediments which can easily be removed, or to trifling peculiarities of construction which can very simply be overcome.
While the great majority of married couples are actually suffering, or would suffer, without the exertion of definite control, from too many pregnancies there are still--particularly in the middle and upper classes--many would-be parents who long for children but seem to be mysteriously deprived of them.. Doctors may have examined both the man and the woman, and pronounced them perfectly normal, perfectly healthy, and perfectly capable of having children together, and yet children do not come. Sometimes this is caused by an undue activity of a slightly acid secretion on the part of the woman, a secretion doing her no harm and of which she is quite unconscious, but which may be sufficient to render the active sperm impotent. Sometimes, ■therefore, it is sufficient to ensure conception for the woman to syringe the vagina with a little weak neutralising solution such as sodium carbonate shortly before sex union. Another cause which sometimes operates against the vital sperm penetrating to the waiting ovum is an excess of mucus at the mouth of the womb. In such a case it is important that a really complete and muscularly energetic orgasm should be achieved by the woman, aot before but coincident with or after the sperm has been ejaculated. It is often argued that it makes no difference whether or not the woman has a complete orgasm, for so many cases are recorded in which women who have never experienced an orgasm have had many children; but it is generally forgotten that women are of many different types, and while one type of woman, the very fruitful mother with a wide vagina and but slight internal mucus, may conceive a dozen times without an orgasm, the more highly nervous, equally perfect, woman may only conceive on the occasion when she experiences an orgasm whilst the sperm are actually in the vagina.