In Europe from the 16th to 18th century many monstrous births, where infants were born with physical anomalies were connected to Maternal Imagination (Idea that maternal thoughts during pregnancy, are transmitted directly from the mother to the developing fetus, resulting in a congenital disorder at birth).
This idea that woman's bodies are greatly vulnerable to powerful external events can be found in historical literature. For example, a pregnant woman who was startled by a frog could imprint her impressions onto the body of her child (the child could get webbed fingers or toes or has a froglike head). Or if a mother has gazed too obsessively at a portrait of christ then she might give birth to a bearded child.
So that meant that when a child was born with a congenital disability the mother was seen as the sole responsible for this, the theory of maternal imagination assumed that women had a greater effect than men on the biological constitution of their children.
Maternal imagination may have been a desperate answer to the question of the male partner's shared responsibility in the birth of a disabled child.
- This project is divided in three chapters, this is chapter 2