sent to a wet-nurse
Posted by Janette K on March 09, 1998 at 20:42:33:
In response to Bad Mother?, written by Cheryl on March 02, 1998 at 00:45:09
I can't back it up with documentation right now, but I think one reason for "farming out" babies was to provide them with a wet-nurse. I think well-to-do ladies did not breast feed their children, in part because they feared it would do damage to their own figures. (Sagging.) I don't imagine they had any such thing as the bottles with nipples that we have now, nor babies' formula, not the inclination to sterilize them, so the baby was sent to a poorer woman to be cared for and wet-nursed.
One reason I have this impression is from Anthony Trolloppe's book, "Doctor Thorne," where one character is the old nurse of the hero, and it seems as if he lived with her as an infant and she breast-fed him. Trollope is somewhat sarcastic at the expense of ladies who are too fashionable to nurse their own babies, but Trollope was a Victorian and probably sentimentalized motherhood more than they did in the Regency. But he is deprecating the fact that this still seems to be a fairly common practic.
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