This article on babies by Dr. May-Dew appeared in the House and Home pages of the August 1887 issue of Godey’s Lady’s Book.
In the magazine’s prospectus: The House and Home Department deserves careful perusal by mothers and housekeepers; the suggestive series of articles by Dr. May-Dew, and the clever, bright papers of Mrs. E.M. Babcock, whose “Over the Fence, or What One Woman Says to Another,” is one of the most original features ever introduced into this or any other periodical.
There is a world-wide difference between the birth of a baby in what we call uncivilized lands, and among primitive people, and our own. It has been a matter of wonder with us how women, destitute of modern comforts and resources, endured the strain and pain of child-birth; how they and the children that were born survived the hardships which they must have endured. But acquaintance with the semi-savage races of our own day shows that the risk, and the pain, the long trial, and the conditions which bring such dread and suffering to modern civilized women were, and are, unknown to barbaric tribes and times. Travelers have told us that the birth of a child hardly interrupts the daily routine of the wives of the lower class of Chinese; and we are told by a writer in the present number of this Magazine, how the native women in the Sandwich Islands bear their children with hardly an hours’ departure from their every day routine, and without the intervention of either doctor or nurse. But they do not possess this hardihood when they become even partly infected with European notions and habits; for either from the effects of a change of diet, less activity, a more burdensome dress, or all combined, an attempt to follow the old ways often results in prostration and even death.
The modern civilized woman runs to the opposite extreme from her savage sister. She is afraid of everything, even cleanliness. “I should not have allowed you to take a bath so soon,” said a physician to a patient eight hours after the birth of a baby , upon finding her fresh from a nap and a warm bath. “I knew you would not, doctor; that is the reason I did not ask you, replied the lady. I had strength for the bath, but not for the battle for it; and my experience has taught me that it is the best, and only thing to quiet the nerves of the body, and put the body itself in a condition to begin the process of restoration.