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 did not approve of corsets during pregnancy, but for most women social conventions and expectations were too strong to ignore.

About this item

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 19 January 2018)

Story by Kerryn Pollock, published 5 May 2011, updated 1 Aug 2017