11 Crazy Pregnancy Rules That Our Grandmas Followed

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Right after the majority of women who get a positive pregnancy test, they will make sure that they are going to be doing all of the right things in order to maximize the chances of them having a successful pregnancy. Additionally, they want to do anything they can to maximize the chances of their unborn babies being healthy. They want to follow the pregnancy rules.  Claim Your 20 Free Pregnancy Tests – Click Here


Modern Day Pregnancy Rules

  1. Rule #1 – That is why if they are invited to an event, and if someone offers them a glass of wine, champagne or any alcoholic beverage, they decline. That is because it is a known fact that drinking alcohol during any stage of the pregnancy will harm the developing baby.Pregnancy Rule #1 - avoid drinking while pregnant
  2. Rule #2 – Even though it is a known fact that smoking during pregnancy can harm the developing baby, most doctors will not want mom to quit smoking cold turkey due to the stress that is brought on by it. They will help them wean themselves off of cigarettes. A little bit of smoking is not nearly as harmful to the developing fetus as loads of stress from mom would be by her quitting cold turkey.
  3. Rule #3 – Not to mention, new moms-to-be will do their research to find out what foods they can and cannot eat. That means they will likely get rid of any unpasteurized cheeses and anything else because of the fact that unpasteurized foods can carry harmful bacteria which can cause serious problems for the fetus.
  4. Rule #4 –They are also aware of the fact that they need to keep taking their prenatal vitamins and folic acid because it is essential for the baby to get all of the nutrients possible to help with the best development in the womb.
  5. Rule #5 -Pregnant women are also encouraged to do some light exercises as it helps keep the circulation going, and it is good to stay active. There are many centers that offer prenatal exercise classes like yoga around your area.

However, if you are fortunate enough to have either of your grandmothers still around,  ask them what was expected of them while they were pregnant with your mother or father.

You would be stunned! Like jaw-dropping, eye-popping stunned.

Let’s find out what your grandmother did while she was pregnant with your mom or dad that you are told to not do anymore (and you may have a hard time believing that anyone born in the early to mid-twentieth century would be healthy!).


Pregnancy Rules from The Early To Mid-Twentieth Century

The fact of the matter is that pregnancy rules and recommendations change drastically over the years. That is because doctors and scientists have found over time what is helpful and harmful for pregnant women to take or to do. In fact, whatever you were told to do in the early 2000’s would likely be somewhat different even for now.

So let’s now talk about what your grandmother was expected to do back when she was pregnant:


No Exercise

Back in the early to mid 20th century, pregnant women were seen as fragile and they were then told to not exercise and to rest and to stay in bed. Not many women were working back in those days as most of them were homemakers, and their partners would work to bring home the bacon.

no pregnancy exercise - Pregnancy Rule

However, for those women who were working, they were expected to quit their jobs and rest during their pregnancies. Nowadays, that is a different story. Over time, research has found that pregnant women need to exercise to stay healthy and to keep the circulation going as it was best for the unborn baby as well. However, that does not mean that running a marathon is safe either. There are prenatal exercises that pregnant women can do quite easily.

No Extra Food

It is a common joke about pregnant women eating double the amount of food because they are eating for two. However, that is not truly acceptable either considering that too much weight gain during pregnancy can cause serious complications like preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.

The amount that pregnant women should be eating in the second trimester is an extra 300 calories and an extra 400 calories in the third trimester. That is hardly eating for two. But back when your grandmother was pregnant with your mom or dad, she was likely told not to gain weight at all.

No Extra Food - Pregnancy Rule

In fact, back then, pregnant women were even given diet pills if they appeared to be gaining too much weight.

And over time, after a lot of research being done on this subject, pregnant women must gain a reasonable amount of weight in order to stay healthy and to help nurture the unborn baby. Besides those 300 to 400 extra calories are needed during the day because pregnancy really does consume more of your energy.

Smoking Was Recommended

This is probably going to make your jaw drop, but pregnant women back in the early to mid-20th century were regularly smoking- along with everyone else. In fact, OBGYNs back then would offer their patients a smoke while they were in the exam room.

Additionally, maternity wards in the mid-20th centuries until the late 1970s to the early 1980’s (when it was found that smoking during pregnancy was indeed harmful) had ashtrays for the moms in labor and for after delivery. Smoking was recommended by OBGYNs because it helped relieve stress.

That said, even back then, it was known that an excess of stress was not good for anyone- especially for pregnant women. But once the harmful effects of cigarettes were found during pregnancy (and in general), that is when pregnant women were told to quit smoking and were told to unwind from stress by watching a funny movie, reading a light-hearted book, or to listen to enjoyable music. Smoking is a no go now.

Drinking Booze Was Recommended

In the early 1970’s, it was found that alcohol consumption during pregnancy was dangerous for the fetus, and cause them to have a disorder called fetal alcohol syndrome or FAS. This affected their overall development and even increased their chances of becoming alcoholics themselves.

That said, in the 1970’s is when it was a known fact that drinking alcohol during pregnancy was harmful and doctors and researchers were educating others about FAS. However back in the early to mid-20th century, pregnant women were told by their OBGYNs to drink ale to help prevent anemia as ale has plenty of iron.

fetal alcohol syndrome - Pregnancy rule

Pregnant women were told to sip on champagne back then to help relieve symptoms of morning sickness. Women that had gone into premature labor were also given screwdrivers (orange juice and vodka) to help stop the labor. Nowadays, if a pregnant woman is seen drinking, then she will be harshly judged.

Grandma Was Not Allowed To Watch Sports

If you are pregnant and you are a football fan and have been watching football games, or baseball or hockey games- don’t worry. Watching sports during pregnancy is just fine. However back in those days, pregnant women were forbidden to watch sports due to the fact that they would become too excited while watching a game. Too much excitement would be once again bad for the baby as it would have the same effect on them as stress.

Grandma Was Not Allowed To Watch Sports - pregnancy rule


However, over time, it has been found that it is perfectly safe for pregnant women to watch sports, and to get excited. Just jumping around because of your home team winning or crying hard to the point you are falling down due to the team losing is when you have to draw the line.

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Grandma Could Not Watch Horror Movies

If your grandmother was pregnant in 1958, there is a good chance that she was not permitted to watch Dracula. That is because watching horror movies during pregnancy was believed to have the same effect as watching sports did- cause too much excitement which could harm the baby.

11 Crazy Pregnancy Rules That Our Grandmas Followed: Grandma Could Not Watch Horror Movies

If frightening scenes were coming on, then it would cause jumping and plenty of anxiety. Therefore, pregnant women were not allowed to watch horror movies or thrillers for the same reason. That also included reading books that could be scary or cause mom to be too emotional.

Family Quarrels Were Not Allowed

The fact of the matter is that arguing and fighting is stressful as it is and those involved will understandably be upset. Therefore, pregnant women were told to avoid getting involved with family quarrels. However, it would be more stressful to allow anger and resentment to fester if it is not released, which it would be while having a fight.

It is best to stay as calm as possible during pregnancy, but some stress is not going to cause any harm. So if you are upset about something that a family member did, then it is best to let it out and let them have it instead of allowing it to fester.

Grandma Probably Took Thalidomide

In the 1950’s, Thalidomide was prescribed to pregnant women that were suffering from morning sickness. Sometime they were prescribed it as a preventative. However, in the 1960’s it was found that it was causing serious birth defects and it was discontinued. There are other drugs today that are safe for pregnant women to take during pregnancy like Diclegis in The US or Diclectin in Canada (same drug) and have been on the market for decades now.

11 Crazy Pregnancy Rules That Our Grandmas Followed: Grandma Probably Took Thalidomide

As it was mentioned before, if your grandmother is older and was pregnant before the late 1950’s before Thalidomide was out, she probably took sips of champagne to help ease off morning sickness symptoms. And Thalidomide actually still has a use but not for what it was used for previously. The drug is there to treat skin lesions from leprosy and for multiple myeloma.

Bumpy Rides Were Not Allowed

If you go on a road trip and the ride is bumpy at times, and you are pregnant, your baby will be fine. Just make sure that if you are on a long road trip to get out of the car every hour to walk and stretch to keep your circulation going.

However, grandma was not allowed to go on bumpy rides during pregnancy because it was harmful to the baby. So they thought it was anyway. They thought that bumpy car rides could cause miscarriages, which again is not true.

Your Parents Were Probably Formula-Fed

Breastfeeding back in the day was not recommended because doctors foolishly believed that breastmilk was too thin. Therefore, they thought at the time that there were not enough nutrients. Therefore, only formula was to be given to babies born during that era. However, over time it has been found that breastmilk is not only nutritious but is the healthier and best option for babies. So silly to interrupt something so biologically natural that has been around since the dawn of time, like breastfeeding.

Their Arms Had To Stay Below Their Heads

If grandma had to reach out for something that was high up during pregnancy, she was not permitted to even attempt at grabbing the item. An example would be if she needed a hat that was on a hat rack that was high up, she would not be allowed to reach it and grab it with her hands.

11 Crazy Pregnancy Rules That Our Grandmas Followed: Their Arms Had To Stay Below Their HeadsShe had to rely on someone else to give her the hat. The reason for this is because it was believed that if pregnant moms raised their arms above their heads, they would cause the cord to wrap around the neck of the fetus. However, after the years of research, this has been found to be untrue.

Do Grandma’s Pregnancy Rules Shock You?

Now, are you stunned to learn about what kind of rules and recommendations that your grandmother had to go by back in those days? You must again be wondering how people survived given that smoking and drinking was recommended during pregnancy in those days.

That said, don’t be surprised if your daughter or future daughter has rules to go by when that day comes that she is pregnant. Because there is a good chance that what pregnant women are told to do today may actually not be, which will change up the pregnancy rules and recommendations once again.

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Dr. Prabha Sahgal, MD
Dr. Prabha Sahgal, MD | ConceiveEasy
Dr. Prabha Sahgal MD, is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology and subspecialty board certified in reproductive endocrinology and infertility. Dr. Sahgal holds a B.S. degree from MIT in molecular biology and currently serves on the ConceiveEasy board of directors.