Story: Pregnancy, birth and baby care

Pregnant woman, 1894 (1st of 3)

Pregnant woman, 1894

Throughout the 19th and most of the 20th century pregnancy was purposefully concealed by clothing. This is mother of 11 Elizabeth Shewry in a horse-riding habit just before the birth of a son in 1894. She is wearing a tightly laced corset and heavy, restrictive clothes. The combination of the corset and long voluminous skirt conceals her pregnancy from the viewer. Doctors disapproved of the wearing of corsets during pregnancy, but for most women social conventions and expectations were too strong to be ignored.

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Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: 1/2-151314-F

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Kerryn Pollock, 'Pregnancy, birth and baby care - Pregnancy attitudes, rituals and clothing', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 27 October 2021)

Story by Kerryn Pollock, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 24 Oct 2018