Breastfeeding by Lawrence Stone
Posted by P. Bingham on April 07, 1998 at 15:17:07:
In response to Need nursing info., written by Traci on April 02, 1998 at 16:06:22
The Family, Sex & Marriage In England 1500-1800 by Lawrence Stone
AGAIN. Here is a very small portion of waht it covers on breast-feeding.
It was not until the second half of the 18th century that practice at last began to conform to propaganda, and wet-nursing quite rapidly went out of fashion. In the 1770's and 1780's one of the highest women in the country, the Duchess of Devonshire, breastfed her eldest son for a period of nine months. In 1786 Countess Fitzwilliam was breastfeeding her infant son, and three years later the wife of vice-Admiral F.W. Drake expressed her satisfaction that a friend was breast-feeding her child. That these mothers were now very numerous is confirmed by Lady Craven, who in 1789 reported that "you will find in every situation of life mother sof families who would shrink with horror at the thought of putting a child from them to nurse: a french custom with people at every degree." "Even women of quality nurse their children," Von Archenholz remarked with surprise when he visited England in 1784, and in 1797 the popular handbook of Thomas Gisborne stated firmly that for a mother, "the first of the parental duties...is to be herself the nurse of her own offspring'.
There can be little doubt that the growth of maternal breastfeeding as an upper-class fashion saved many infants from death at the hands of negligent wet-nurses. The other consquence, the importance of which can hardly be exaggerated, was psychological. As Plutarch had pointed out in his Moralia cantries before, breastfeeding by the mother stimulates maternal affection. It also gives the child a greater sense of security and confidence about the world and increases its attachment to the mother. This may well be a prime cause of that growth of affect in the 18th century which is central to the argument of this book.
There is reason to believe that in this shift to maternal breast-feeding, as in a number of other family matters, England was in the lead of Europe. The practice of wet-nurses seems to have died out in fracne only in the late 19th century and in germany only in the twentieth, to be replaced in many cases by bottle feeding.
This book covers this issue very well, and goes in very deeply into the reasons behind thoughts of breastfeeding, wet-nurses, etc. Such as women being pressured by their husbands not to breast feed because of the breasts being a sexual organ and so on (Mary Wolstencraft sponsored this theory heavily and the author of this particular book supports her).
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