Agatha M. Thrash, M.D.
The well-being of the child will be affected by the habits of the mother. Her appetites and passions are to be controlled by principle. Women have need of great patience before they are qualified to become mothers. If, before the birth of her child, she is self-indulgent, if she is selfish, impatient, and exacting, these traits will be reflected in the disposition of the child. But, if she is temperate and self-denying, if she is kind, gentle, and unselfish, she may give her child these same precious traits of character.
The diet should be generous, simple, and tasty. It should not be of an exciting quality. The first rule in nutrition is that of a wide variety. During pregnancy more than at any other time, vegetables and fruits should assume a large part of the diet, along with whole grain breads and a few nuts. If ever there is a need for simplicity of diet and special care as to quality, it is in the prenatal period. The animal products need not play any part in the diet, particularly if milk is replaced by a wide variety of greens, whole grains, and legumes. The appetite should not be allowed to run riot to indulge cravings. Drink plenty of water, sufficient to keep the urine pale, so that the blood can be cleansed and the stools kept soft.
The mental attitude of the mother during pregnancy is very important, as the baby can indeed be influenced by the mother's mental attitude during pregnancy. She should encourage a constantly happy, cheerful, contented disposition. She should not overwork, she should not be burdened with many stresses, and every attempt should be made to meet her needs. The husband should be affable, courteous, kind, and tender.
The most important single item in a prenatal program is that of exercise. Many other deficiencies can be corrected by an adequate program of exercise. Some portion of each day should be spent in exercise out-of-doors. At first, spend one hour, and gradually increase the time spent until several hours are spent out-of-doors each day. Keep a regular schedule, doing things at the same time each day, including weekends and holidays. Especially should bedtime, arising time, and mealtimes be regular.
Such items as caffeine, nicotine, and other members of the alkaloid group should be omitted, as they have been found to be mutagenic. This means that they have the capability of causing chromosome splitting, which can influence the growth of the baby. Any influence that might reduce the baby's IQ by even a few points should be studiously avoided.
ALCOHOL AND OTHER DRUGS
All poisonous drugs should be carefully omitted during pregnancy, as at all other times. Most drugs can influence the growth of the baby, and such drugs as alcohol have been determined to cause below-normal intelligence and physical development. It is wise to omit the use of any hormone, except those that may be essential replacements such as insulin or thyroxin.
There should never be a sense of chilliness during pregnancy. The circulation to the placenta, and therefore the development of the baby, can be impeded by chilled extremities. Large blood vessels supply the limbs. Chilling causes them to become narrow and to carry less blood. The blood displaced from the limbs congests the placenta and reduces its circulation. Tight bands across the abdomen or around any body part reduces circulation and should be avoided.
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