According to my new B.F.F., the internet, the practice of confinement before (and even after) pregnancy is not such a radical concept. It seems as though throughout history, various practices of pregnancy hibernation were widely utilized throughout Europe and even in other areas of the world, as a way for historical preggers to gear up for the big delivery day.
At the beginning of Medieval times, confinement was the terminology which pertained to the last month(s) of pregnancy in which a woman spent the final duration of her pregnancy in bed. Popular among the upper-class and royal families, the practice of confinement was a measure taken to reduce the risk of premature delivery. Today, confinement is synonymous with bed-rest (AKA pregnancy incarceration).
If you have ever read any Phillipa Gregory novels (holler if you're as obsessed with The Other Boleyn Girl as I am), you have probably wondered why all of the wives of Henry Tudor were sanctioned to bed rest the final weeks of their pregnancy. While this could have been an ideal opportunity for Henry the Eighth to man-whore the castle behind his wives' backs, it was practiced to ensure that King Player received a healthy heir to the throne. However, as most of you history-buffs know, he failed to produce a male successor, even after royally exhausting five wives.
Nonetheless, wealthy women throughout this time period and leading up to the Seventeenth century were literally severed from the outside world, including their families, husbands, and older children, and attended to by a myriad of other women, including mid-wives (Doctors during that time period didn't believe in dirtying their hands with unhygienic womanly issues), ladies-in-waiting, and female family members. Curtains were drawn, permitting women no view of the outside world (I thank God for my hospital room window with a view of palm trees and the blue Florida sky); candles were lit; wine and ale was served to ease nerves (can I please place an order for a nice, Argentinean Malbec?); and women were succumbed to a dark, warm room (my pregnant hormones cannot even handle the thermostat being above 70 degrees) to protect from evil spirits.
During the Victorian Era, women disappeared from the social scene when pregnant. Adorable baby-bump displays of the pregnant belly were a forbidden no-no and were tantamount to committing social suicide. Or, maybe it was considered faux pas if your water suddenly broke in the middle of an elegant, fifteen course dinner party. In my opinion, this practice was unnecessary, even stuck-up (but what can you expect from an era in which it was trendy, yet asphyxiating to wear corsets and powdered wigs), depriving women the final opportunity to gossip, shop, and hang with her gal-pals before childbirth.
In modern times, different cultures still practice confinement, but this is usually after the baby is born (post-baby-lock-down). Supposedly, Chinese, Malay, and Indian communities have their own, unique rituals which aim to help the woman's body recover after childbirth (if I could have chosen, this sounds like a much preferable option than serving pre-baby jail time). In the Chinese community, grand-mothers, or even "confinement nannies", will cook the new mother's food (mom--can I please place an order for eggplant parmesan--and don't tell me to hire a confinement nanny!), help with the laundry, and feed the newborn.
So, for the next three months of my life, I will be secluded from the outside world (both pre and post baby). I am protecting me and baby J from evil spirits (in present-day Florida, evil spirits consist of the crazy Miami drivers, strangers in public who become overwhelmed with the urge to touch my belly, and my favorite clothing shops which haunt me with images of cute clothes that no longer fit my expanding body). Gratefully, I can still enjoy this time with my girlfriends, who loyally sit next to my bed and teach me to knit (thank you Heather!!), divulge the latest gossip, and decorate my room with beautiful bouquets of flowers (thank you Shelley, Betsey, Jessica, Sandra, Barbara and Sandy!!!).