Childbirth, in the normal way, should be a purely natural function with very little pain or
discomfort to the women concerned. It is so even today that with primitive races. But many
civilised women appear to find the bearing of children a task fraught with grave risk and suffering
and attended by numerous minor or serious after-effects. This is solely due to wrong dietary
habits and a faulty style of living. Really healthy mothers will always have an easy time when
Pregnancy makes many demands on the prospective mother, the most important being her
nutritional needs and those of the unborn child. Studies of nutrition of women during pregnancy
shows a definite relationship between the diet of the mother and the condition of the baby at
birth. These studies have also shown that some of the complications of the pregnancy such as
, toxemia and premature delivery may result from a diet inadequate in the nutritional
needs of the mother and the baby.
The process of childbirth becomes painful mainly due to a large foetus in the womb. This results
from an excessive intake of denatured foods such as white flour products, white sugar, refined
cereals, meat and other flesh foods during pregnancy. Other factors contributing to the suffering
of the women include lack of exercise, unhygienic habits of living and restrictive garments.
It is quite wrong to assume that the larger the baby at birth, the healthier it will be. The weight
ofthe baby should be about three to three and a half kg. at birth. If the weight is more than that,
delivery will be painful for the mother. Such a child will also be covered with unnecessary fat and
, which is really waste matter and an impediment to health.
A proper diet during pregnancy is the most important factor for not only having a painless
childbirth but also for giving birth to a healthy baby. The idea of " eating for two ", which is so
prevalent today, is absurd and it leads to overeating, resulting in an unusually , heavy baby. The
diet during pregnancy should consist of natural , vital foods and minimum intake of today's
denatured food products. The unborn child will require an adequate amount of orgnic minerals
from its mother for building of bones and tissues and this can be supplied by natural food such
as fruits, raw vegetables, whole meal bread, and milk, unnatural foods like white bread, sugar,
meat, pudding and pies are very deficient in organic mineral matter and their intake during
pregnancy leads to loss and decay of teeth, general debility and other ailments after childbirth.
Pregnancy is rendered more difficult in case of habitual constipation
. IN the advanced stage, this
is aggravated by the pressure of the enlarged uterus
on the bowels. This can be avoided by
eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables of high fibre content. The expectant mother should
drink eight to ten glasses of water. She should not delay going to the lavatory when there is the
urge. In severe constipation
, a lukewarm water enema may be taken once every week.
The diet for expectant mothers should be planned along the following lines by securing a safe
and easy child birth and a healthy child :
Fresh fruit in season or grated raw carrot, or any other raw salad and milk. Prunes
or other dried fruit may also be taken, if desired.
Steamed vegetables, as obtainable, whole wheat chappatis and a glass of buttermilk.
A good-sized raw salad of any suitable vegetables, sprouted mung beans, whole wheat
bread, butter or cottage cheese and prunes or other dried fruit as dessert.
Besides proper diet, the expectant mother should be given daily a dry friction and cold sponge
during the first five or six months of pregnancy. A dry friction bath can be taken with a rough dry
towel or with a moderately soft bristle brush. If a brush is used, the procedure should be as
follows : take the brush in one hand and begin with the face, neck and chest. Then brush one
, beginning at the wrist and brushing towards the shoulders. Now stoop down and brush one
foot, then the ankle and leg. Then do the other foot and leg and next the hips and certain portion
of the body. Continue brushing each part until the skin is pink. Use the brush quickly backward
and forward on every part of the body. If a towel is used, it should be fairly rough, and the same
process should be followed. This bath excites to increased activity all the functional processes
lying at or near the surface of the body.
The cold sponge is taken as follows: wring out a towel in cold water, and rub the whole body in
the manner described for the friction bath. If, during the process of rubbing the towel becomes
too dry, it should be wrung out again.
The expectant mother should also take breathing and other mild exercises. After the sixth
month, tepid water may be used for the sponge. Exercises should either be modified or
suspended altogether. A good walk should be taken daily right upto the end of the eighth month
and all household duties should be performed in a normal way. This will keep the muscles of the
womb and pelvis in good condition and will ensure safe and easy childbirth. The exercise
should, however, always be well within the capacity of the prospective mother and all undue
strain, worry or excitement should be avoided.
For the really healthy woman, recoupment after childbirth poses no problem. Women among
primitive races are able to rise and go about their duties immediately after delivery. The woman
of civilised nations are however, seldom able to do so. In fact it is customary to keep them in bed
for a considerable time after child birth. It is usually due to abnormal slowness with which the
generative organs assume the former position.
As in the case case of pregnancy, diet plays an important role in the recoupment after childbirth.
The diet of the mother for the first two days after confinement should consist of only fresh juicy
fruits with some warm milk. A salad with thin whole meal bread and butter may be added to the
diet the next day. The diet may thereafter be extended gradually until it approaches the pre-natal
diet outlined above.
The diet should exclude white bread or white flour products, sugar, jam, pastries, puddings, pies,
heavy, greasy and fried foods. Strong tea, coffee, alcohol
, condiments, pickles, and vinegar
should be strictly avoided.
It is most essential that the baby nurses at the mother's breast to stimulate production of milk,
especially during the critical period following birth. This is important for a number of reasons. The
infant, nursing at the breast, causes the uterus
to contract. The contraction of uterus
expel any portion of the placenta which may still remain following delivery. It will also stop the
mother from haemorrhaging. If those mothers who are afraid of losing their figures would try
nursing their babies, they would discover their figures actually improve after child birth.
Feeding of children
During the first forty eight hours immediately after birth, the mother's breasts generally do not
produce milk. This is in accordance with nature's plan that the infant should fast during this
period. He will have no need for food and none should be given. All children after this period
should be breast-fed where possible. Breast feeding is the natural and ideal way of feeding the
infant. Mother's milk is pure, fresh and easily digestible. It helps the child to grow. The child
should be given four feeds a day at four-hourly intervals but no feeds should be given during the
night. If the child wakes up at night only water should be given. Babies should be breast-fed for
atleast 8 months as this is nature's way of providing all the required nutrients during this period.
Recent research has shown that the mother's body is able to react to infections in the child and
the bacteria in the baby's mouth leads to the production of appropriate anti- bodies in the
mother's milk. Breast-fed babies are, therefore, less prone to gastrointestinal
diseases. If for any reason, it is impossible to breast feed the child, it should be fed on goat's
milk or cow's milk, diluted with water, with milk sugar added. The child should not be given
artificially prepared, patent or tinned milk foods. When a mother can partly feed a child, she
should give it two feeds of her own and two bottle feeds or one of her own and three bottle
feeds. Those mothers who suffer from diseases like high blood pressure
, heart trouble,
should not breast feed their babies.
Where children are entirely breast-fed, they need nothing more than the milk they receive from
their mothers. Children on bottle feed, should be given some orange juice daily,in addition to the
bottle feeds. NO baby, whether breast- fed or bottle -fed should be given anything except milk
and orange juice for the first 10 to 12 months of existence. NO starchy food or anything else
should be given during this period. If they are given starchy foods such as bread, or oatmeal
before weaning , it will lead to the early development of such child ailments as cough, colds,
, whooping cough
and so on as babies lack the proper enzymes needed for their
digestion before that age.
At the age of one year, a baby should be given about a litre of milk with fruit juices daily. Never
force a baby to take food if it does not want to, and never overfeed. If a baby shows no
inclination for food or a certain day, it should be given as much as it wishes for and no more. The
assumption that the baby should have a certain amount of food every day have no basis. On the
other hand, if the baby does not appear to be satisfied with the quantity of its food and wants
more at a feed, it should be given as much as it wants.