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November 24, 1945


JAMA. 1945;129(13):849-853. doi:10.1001/jama.1945.02860470009003

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND  The practice of early rising of parturient women dates back to ancient times. Although it was recently stimulated by the wartime shortage of obstetric beds, it did not arise from that emergency. The puerperium, or time of rest given to women in childbed, has varied more widely in the customs of different peoples than any other feature of that great physiologic function of woman.The biblical Israelites considered the puerpera unclean for seven days after the birth of a male child and for fourteen days after the birth of a female child, during which period she was required to remain at home.1 The longer period of isolation after a female child has been attributed to their belief that the female sex, being inferior, require a longer period to restore cleanliness. In Athens the puerpera was considered unclean, and whoever touched the mother was forbidden to visit an