The 1800s were full of corsets. They were meant to give any woman that slim, hourglass shape. Corsets constricted the torso and were reinforced with stiffeners. These stiffeners fit the body so tightly that the body was then molded to the shape of the corset (Caelleigh). The definition given in an article titled, "A Short History of the Corset", states, “A corset is a close-fitting piece of clothing that has been stiffened by various means in order to shape a woman 's (also a man 's, but rarely) torso to conform to the fashionable silhouette of the time” ("A Short History of the Corset.") This was a very popular item to wear in throughout the 1800s, but what happened when the women became pregnant?
There were many different types of corsets throughout time. In 1796, there was a new type of corset that contained cups. The cups were there to lift the breasts and keep them apart ("A Short History of the Corset.") This type of corset follows the natural shape of the body, which means that it contained less boning than the past. This particular corset also widened over the hips by way of triangular inserts ("A Short History of the Corset.") By the 1820s, corsets became widely popular. New and improved items had been added to the corsets, such things as lacing eyelets that contained metal grommets and the planchet, which were metal strips used to open and close the corset without having to unfasten the lacing on every occasion ("A Short History of the Corset.") These additions made the corsets much easier to take on and off. Corsets also became mandatory around this time ("A Short History of the Corset.") With this becoming mandatory, new and beautiful fabrics were added to the corsets during the 1860s ("A Short H...
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... pregnancy, women continued to morph their body, including the growing baby, into their ever-so-tight corset. While doing this, the expecting mother was willing to risk losing her baby. The corsets were not allowing the fetus to grow and move throughout the pregnancy. This often resulted in miscarriage.
Pregnancy today is treated completely different than it was in the 1800s. They did not realize how vital health is to deliver a happy, healthy child. When researching this topic, I was not sure what to expect. I was not sure how they went about pregnancy when corsets were so popular. When reading that pregnant women continued to wear corsets throughout their pregnancy, I was very surprised. I did not realize that pregnancy was such a burden in those days. I now know how lucky I am to be raised in such a great society that provides prenatal care to expecting mothers.
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