When Adam and Martha Gopnik in the book, Paris to the Moon, went to the obstetrician, and Martha found she was pregnant for a second time, she was told to stop eating raw vegetables and told to drink a glass of red wine everyday.
Don't eat raw vegetables? What nonsense is that? That would have been my answer. But apparently there is a good reason. "Toxoplasmosis---a mild parasitic infection that is devastating to unborn children---though it's rare in America (this is found in cat litter), it is common in France." (p103. In the essay," Like a King" by Gopnik.) Red wine on the other hand is high in iron and acts as an anti-spasmodic. This makes sense to me. I can't really believe that if you are careful and drink one glass of wine a day or one beer, as the Germans have done for generations, it can hurt your baby. What did the people in the middle ages do when their calories came from alcohol and mead, which is alcohol mixed with honey? They hardly stopped drinking. But then the French doctor didn't say you could drink tons of alcohol either, and that's where the difference is, of course.
I looked for an article on taxoplasmosis and found the following: http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/parasitic/toxoplasmosis.html# In this article and one other, it explains that 50% of French women have this parasite, but build up an immunity over the years. However, to make sure that the baby doesn't get it through the mother's blood, she should not only cook the vegetables but also make sure the meat is well cooked. So as good as the meals are in France, the food is still not hygienically as clean as the food in the states is. Maybe that is a generalization, but how would the vegetables and meat become infected with kitty litter, which is of course, cat feces?
The mother stays in the hospital three to four days. And she is given something that looks like a dildo she is supposed to take to the physical therapist. It is an electric gadget that helps get her uterus back to normal and helps her avoid incontinence.
After the baby is born, the French woman nurses her baby for three months, because after three months, the breasts start to sag. I don't know why they would sag only after three months, but that seems to be the myth here, and in the medical opinion keeping your breasts beautiful for your marriage is as important as nursing your baby for more than three months. According to three of the books I've read, the medical profession thinks that the baby gets enough nourishment from the mother in those first three months.Who says culture doesn't determine the way the medical profession thinks?