Special prenatal care didn't exist in many ancient cultures. Married women of childbearing age frequently got pregnant and continued doing all the daily chores and tasks they always did, especially if they were of the lower classes.
Upper class women or royalty were treated differently even in many of the ancient cultures. In ancient India, for example, pregnant women were pampered throughout their pregnancies. They were expected do little work and were encouraged (and even expected) to have unusual food cravings. Servants and sometimes junior family members were required to fulfill the expecting woman's every wish when it came to food cravings.
Early Prenatal Care/Maternity Care Plans
The earliest records of health care during pregnancy that differed from care when there was no pregnancy began in the 1700s. During this time specific diets for pregnant women were encouraged. Blood letting (the draining of supposedly extra blood that was thought to be the cause of disease and sickness) was also a common treatment for the pregnant woman and so was purging. Tight corseting was encouraged during the Victorian Era, often up and through the six month of pregnancy, so that the woman could hide her condition and remain active in the social scene. During the Victorian era upper class women were encouraged to get eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and stay away from hot food. They were also encouraged to get some exercise, often in the form of travel which usually involved quite a bit of walking.
Maternity Care and Clothing
Part of maternity care is being able to dress the ever-expanding body of a pregnant woman. Up until the 13th century women simply made do with the clothes they had. Dresses of this era were not form fitting in the Western world and the flowing fabric usually easily accommodated a growing belly.
It was during the time when women's clothes started to hug a woman's body a little more that the idea of maternity clothes was conceived. The wealthy had dresses tailor made and the lower classes let loose seams to accommodate their pregnancies.
The first recorded maternity-style gown was called the Adrienne dress and it was used during the Baroque period. The dress had an empire waist, flowing fabric and many folds to accommodate growing bellies. Women often wore men's coats with laced vents at the back to adjust the size as needed. In the late 1700s bibs at the bust line were added to many maternity gowns to allow for breastfeeding. The first clothes specifically marketed as maternity clothes became available in 1904.
Costs of Maternity Care
Prenatal care can be expensive depending on the country you live in and the type of maternity care insurance you have. A 2007 article in the Washington Post said that in the United States families tended to pay more out of pocket expenses for maternity insurance that had a high deductible. According to the article, the average cost of maternity care out-of-pocket was $1,455 for an uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery for those with a low deductible plan. Those with a high deductible plan tended to pay from $3,000 to $7,000 for an uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery.
High deductible plans tend to cost less monthly which makes them popular, but experts warn that it's important to make sure you choose your health and maternity insurance policy carefully.
Some countries, like Canada, have free basic healthcare for everyone regardless of their insurance policy or income levels. This means that basic maternity care doesn't cost anything, besides the taxes one pays, and neither does a basic hospital birth. Additional insurance is often needed for extra treatments or things like a semi-private or private room.
In most places in Canada, the UK and Australia there is what's called family centered maternity care after a baby is born. This means that your newborn baby will remain in your birthing room with you if you've had an uncomplicated delivery. The baby will be provided with a baby crib stocked with infant care items. Some American hospitals are also providing this service but sometimes it costs more and must be specifically covered by an insurance plan.