How did people know about the first nine months of life before it could be studied by modern science? This is speculation; but it seems to make sense. The only evidence people probably had at one time were stillbirths and miscarriages. The most knowledgeable people probably were midwives and the early students of medicine who either were grave robbers or the patrons of grave robbers. This could be a topic for further research.
Only recently have we had ways of viewing conception and growth in the womb. Ultrasounds (especially 3-D ultrasounds) are rather recent as is open surgery done on the fetus while still inside the womb. The first evidence that we had of the progress of the first nine months was usually the result of a terminated pregnancy, voluntary or involuntary. It wasn’t so long ago that we had few pictures of what type of development occurred during the first nine months. In fact, there were more artist’s representations of what was happening than photographs or other forms of scientific monitoring of fetal growth. Yes, there were x rays, but these were often considered harmful to the growing baby.
The first nine months were often a mystery that wasn’t solved until the baby was delivered alive or dead. Many parents lived with terrible uncertainty until they finally found out this way. Many women, if they did not have a story of their own, heard the whispered stories of what had happened to other women. There was much distress caused by this; but it was frequently not shared and doctors and staff were often not emotionally supportive of the parents. Also if you go back far enough and (that really isn’t very far) you can view the stone memorials to mothers and children that didn’t make it through the first nine months.
This leaves us with another question about the first nine months. When is it acceptable during those first nine months to terminate a pregnancy? We still seem to be acting like ostriches burying our heads in the sand when it comes to becoming aware as to what is going on at different stages of pregnancy and exactly how the procedure is done. Only recently have we instituted mourning procedures for families of miscarried or early onset still born babies.
Mysteries still abound about the procedures involved in the termination of pregnancies, when they are allowed and who has to give permission. The woman involved has always been encouraged to give up her right to say, “No,” later once she has given permission to end the baby’s life. I have my own story to tell. I have never read anywhere that one had to sign papers saying she would give the doctor the right to terminate the pregnancy (which was the latest an abortion was allowed to be performed) if the amniocentesis determined that the baby had Down syndrome; but this was what I was told by two different obstetricians.