Heavy straining or lifting must be avoided during pregnancy, and working with the hands in an uplifted position is liable to do much harm.
Sitting long at a time, sewing, reading, or engaged in fancy work, is unfavorable, or the habit of lying down after a full meal; the better plan being to secure rest before meals, lying down a half hour or an hour before dinner and supper; this period of rest being very important to those who are working hard phy sically.
Idleness, mental and physical, is as harmful as over work. When the selfish desire for ease and self indulgence is not overcome by useful occupation, the mother will not grow strong in muscle or will, and a like influence is left upon her child. A sedentary life indoors should be carefully avoided.
Dress as a means of injury to women during pregnancy, and of even greater harm to children, must not be forgotten. Every gynaecologist and obstetrician knows that a moderate pressure upon the abdomen will materially depress the organs in the abdomen and pelvis. During pregnancy the uterus, as it de velops, should rise out of the pelvis, and enlarge in the later months, until it crowds quite under the lower ribs, which change is natural and necessary, and should not be hindered. Heavy, unsupported clothing, worn during pregnancy, prevents this, and can only do harm. In one neighborhood I found the bad results of the advice of an old English nurse, who told her patrons that it was better to wear corsets and lace them down tight, as the baby would not then have so far to go, and delivery would be easier. The results in some instances seemed to jus tify the measure, for the muscles, so pressed upon and weakened, did seem to give little resistance at delivery; but after the long strain they did not regain their contractile power, and falling of the bowels and displacement of the uterus resulted. A young lady, fond of society and its gayeties, was married in the early autumn preceding an unusually gay season in the city where her new home was located. Preg nancy occurred almost immediately, and with less than its usual discomforts. She was annoyed at first that she must be debarred from so much pleasure, but decided to lace herself and conceal her condition as long as possible, and carried out her purpose so fully that she was able to go out constantly until spring. Bad methods of dress, late hours and sup
pers did their work. Her little boy was born without unusual complication of labor, weighed but five or six pounds, and was nervous and sickly. Spinal weak ness and dropsy of the brain after a little time began to show itself, and he lived a helpless little sufferer about two years. The mother, who was naturally strong, did not get up well from her accouche ment, and her confinement for two years with her sick baby did much to debilitate her still more. The few months of gayety did not compensate for so much after-suffering. A young wife, finding herself soon enceinte, laced tightly, and, being in good health, enjoyed the round of winter gayeties. She was par ticularly fond of dancing, and indulged freely in that recreation. Her little boy was feeble, fretful, sleepless, and before he was three years old developed a de formed spine. The mother did not recover favorably, but was a sufferer from a heavy burden of so-called " weaknesses," which were unjustly attributed to motherhood and its exhausting claims. Seeing their error, these young people, during a second and third pregnancy, did all they could from the first to give health and happiness to their children. The has been most happy for both parents and children. The younger sister and brother are bright, happy, vigorous young people, a contrast to the deformed elder brother as marked as it is instructive. A young woman, healthful and vigorous, lived during the first three years of her married life in the family of her husband's mother. In the course of a few months, becoming pregnant, her new mother's freely ex pressed wish that she should have no children, added to her own regret at the "unfortunate accident," led her to dress tightly, and shut her secret within her own heart. For a long time her need of encour agement, judicious counsel, and care was known to no one but her young husband, who was as ignorant as herself. The lacing was so effectual that she did not change her habit of dress till a late period in her pregnancy. When her little girl was born, she was sickly and deformed. By dint of patient care only, she lived, but will never be strong.