Drink Booze to Stop Preterm Labor? 13 Ancient Pregnancy & Birth Remedies

Today we have lots of modern conveniences when it comes to pregnancy (too many, in my opinion…or least, they're used too frequently!). We're used to nearly instant home pregnancy tests, several blood tests that can tell us how healthy we are and if our baby is at risk for a genetic conditions, drugs to start or stop labor, and so on.

But this wasn't always the case. In fact, many of these inventions are very recent, within the last 50-60 years. And some within the last 10-20! So what in the world did people do before we had all this stuff? Well let's find out.

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*The Egyptians believed that the anus, vagina, and mouth were all linked to the stomach. To test a woman's fertility, they put a piece of onion or garlic into her vagina overnight. If it could be smelled on her breath the next day, she was able to get pregnant. If not, there was a "blockage" and they deemed pregnancy impossible.

*Many cultures prayed to deities or had rituals that they performed in order to increase fertility.

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*The Japanese would parade through town, carrying a huge wooden phallus to increase fertility (yes, really…they carved giant wooden penises and paraded them through town). This ceremony is still performed in Japan.

*Older cultures also used various herbs to increase fertility (some of which really do work and are still used today!).

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Pregnancy Tests

*The earliest pregnancy test was used by the Egyptians. They poured a woman's urine over grains to see if they would sprout. If they did, she was pregnant! This was surprisingly accurate. However, they also believed this test could help predict the gender, based on which grains sprouted first, but that wasn't very accurate! (So don't try it!)

*It was in 1925 that scientists finally discovered the hormone HCG, which is the hormone we measure today to determine pregnancy. At this time, they injected urine from a woman into a young rabbit, who, if the woman was pregnant, would go "into heat." Unfortunately, the rabbit had to be killed and dissected to determine the result! Frogs were also used.

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*Egyptians thought labor could be induced by mixing saffron powder with beer and rubbing it on a woman's belly.

*Reflexology, working on certain pressure points on a woman's body (most commonly the foot) is thought to induce labor (this is still used sometimes today!).

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*Castor oil was used in the 1800s through now to bring on labor. It's not currently advised because a side effect is severe cramping and diarrhea, but some women who are overdue and desperate do try it, often with success!

*Red raspberry leaf tea was said to induce labor.

*Most ancient women delivered while kneeling or squatting.

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*In the mid-1900s, doctors discovered that giving a woman alcohol could stop preterm labor. A lot of alcohol. It dilates the blood vessels, stopping the uterus from contracting. It was the only way to stop preterm labor until modern drugs were invented.

*One of the first men to attempt to attend a birth, Dr. Wertt (who dressed up in women's clothing, as men weren't allowed to attend births) in 1522 was discovered and burned at the stake for it.

For more information on pregnancy before modern conveniences, visit Babble's Being Pregnant.

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