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In the days before baby formula, new mothers had far fewer options for food for their babies. Because of rampant childhood diseases and absence of many other options of sustenance for infants, breastmilk played a vitally important role in the development of society and families. Many slaveholding women designated enslaved women to be wet nurses for the newly born white children. As Robert Mallard describes in his memoir, As a babe, I drew a part at least of my nourishment from the generous breasts of a colored foster mother.
Growing up on a plantation in Georgia, Mallard was certainly one of many young children who were cared for primarily by slaves instead of his own parents.
The term “wet nurse” refers to a type of female worker who typically was hired by Most of the time, wet nurses were young married women of a non-slave status Wet Nurses Work; Geographic Area: France; Century: 13; Date: 3rd quarter of.
The historical evolution of infant feeding includes wet nursing, the feeding bottle, and formula use. Before the invention of bottles and formula, wet nursing was the safest and most common alternative to the natural mother’s breastmilk. Society’s negative view of wet nursing, combined with improvements of the feeding bottle, the availability of animal’s milk, and advances in formula development, gradually led to the substitution of artificial feeding for wet nursing. In addition, the advertising and safety of formula products increased their popularity and use among society.
Currently, infant formula-feeding is widely practiced in the United States and appears to contribute to the development of several common childhood illnesses, including atopy, diabetes mellitus, and childhood obesity. The historical evolution of feeding practices for a full-term infant immediately after birth includes wet nursing, the feeding bottle, and formula use. The purpose of this article is to explore each component and their combined impact on current infant-feeding trends and child health.
We provide a review of wet nursing, the feeding bottle, and the use of formula from Ancient Roman times to the extinction or peak of the practice, as well as discussion of infant-feeding trends indicating the rise of bottle feeding and the rapid decline of breastfeeding. The literature on key issues pertaining to child health and the development of common health problems among breastfed versus formula-fed infants is briefly reviewed.
Wet nursing began as early as BC and extended until the 20th century. Throughout this time period, wet nursing evolved from an alternative of need BC to an alternative of choice BC to AD. It became a well organized profession with contracts and laws designed to regulate its practice. Despite objections during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, wet nursing continued until the feeding bottle was introduced in the 19th century.
With a feasible alternative feeding method available, wet nursing as a profession quickly declined to extinction.
A review of wet nursing experiences, motivations, facilitators and barriers
This study examined the best practices with regard to infant and young child feeding in emergency IYCF-E program. Information on demographics, IYCF-E knowledge, wet nursing support, type of constraints faced, and possible ways to overcome such constraints was collected through face-to-face interviews with 24 conveniently selected wet nurses. Linear regression was used to analyze the associations. Mean age of wet nurses was
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It was popular before the s and still continues today. Continue reading for all you need to know about wet nursing babies. Technically wet nursing is when a baby is entirely fed by another woman who is not her biological mother. The term is often used to mean cross nursing as well in recent times. Cross nursing occurs when the baby is sometimes nursed by another woman who is not his biological mother.
Wet nursing has been around for thousands of years and is an excellent way to nurse a baby as long as proper precautions are observed. A wet nurse should be well-nourished and healthy with ample supply of breast milk to feed a baby. Going by historical records, wet nursing has been around for a very long time.
Some of the earliest civilizations such as the Egyptians had wet nursing practices and codes established for the regulation of it. It was done to avoid inconvenience to wealthy women and to ensure their babies were nourished with wholesome breast milk. Other parts of the world also had wet nursing as the only way to nourish a child if the biological mother was incapable of producing her own breast milk. Mothers who had excess milk often cross nursed other children who were in need.
What is a Wet Nurse?
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The history of wet-nursing is ancient (dating to perhaps bce) and widespread. It continued as a practice into the 21st century, though in many parts of the.
Allomaternal nursing, the practice of infants suckling from a female not their mother, takes many forms. This behavior is not unique to humans and is widespread among mammalian species. Allomaternal nursing is thought to increase the fitness of females and infants, which would be favored by natural selection, but little research effort is directed to the topic. More recently, modern technologies of plastic containers, cold storage, and rapid shipping have created opportunities for milk sharing and milk selling widely among women.
Some researchers and clinicians consider this unregulated trade of human milk a cause for concern—especially the risk of disease and toxin transmission to developing babies. Wet-nursing was a prevalent practice before the advent of commercial formula. Throughout the Renaissance and into the early 20th century, poor women were hired to nurse the infants of wealthy women.
Physiologically, the period of lactation, especially early and peak lactation, requires the mobilization of maternal body fat and skeletal minerals. In this way, interbirth intervals are often correlated with the duration of exclusive breastfeeding. By hiring wet nurses, wealthy women could shorten interbirth intervals and produce large families by forgoing the biological costs of lactation. Disentangling infant mortality due to wet-nursing from the immuno-socio-politico-economic context in which it occurred is tricky, especially when relying on historical records.
Take home message: wet-nursing was contingent on wealth disparity and generally had the potential to have high costs for the wet nurses.
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This text is protected by copyright and may be linked to without seeking permission. A Wet nurse is a woman who gives nurse to a child, and who takes responsibility for the raising of the child in its first years. The conditions necessary to a good wet nurse are normally considered to be her age, the amount of time since she has given birth, the constitution of her body, particularly her breasts, the nature of her milk, and finally, her morals.
n. a woman hired to suckle another’s infant. [–20]. wet′-nurse`. v.t. -nursed,.
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A wet nurse is a woman who nurses another woman’s child, usually for a fee. There are a number of reasons to use a wet nurse, and wet nursing has a long history in most of the world. Although the practice is not as widespread in industrialized nations as it once was, wet nursing is still practiced in many developing countries.
A variation, cross-nursing, involves using a wet nurse part time and nursing your own child the rest of the time.
Date: April 27, ; Source: Pediatric Academic Societies; Summary: A Wet nursing was considered the safest and most popular alternative form of nutrition.
When breastfeeding becomes marginalized in a culture, maternal behavior that was considered normal in times when people grew up seeing breastfeeding women around them comes to be viewed as socially unacceptable. Shared nursing and wet-nursing are examples of behaviors that have been common all over the world in nonurbanized societies. Unfortunately, when bottle-feeding of artificial milks becomes the primary mode of infant feeding, how people used to relate to one another can rather quickly be forgotten, and many begin to think that breastfeeding is—and should remain—an essentially private experience between each mother and her baby.
The first summer we settled on our land in Tennessee, we were presented with our first nursing challenge: One hundred of the three hundred of us came down with hepatitis A—probably from eating uncooked watercress that had been put in the store. Two pregnant women, Linda and Lisa, had their babies prematurely because of contracting the disease. Both babies were too small to maintain their body temperature, even in the August heat, so each spent some weeks in incubators at our local hospital.
Breast-pump technology was in its infancy in the early s; we had some manual pumps of the old bicycle-horn type, but nothing like the electric pumps of today. Although Linda and Lisa had some degree of success pumping manually, it was obvious that stronger measures would be necessary for them to maintain good milk production. At my suggestion, some of the other mothers of young babies in our community worked out schedules among themselves and helped Linda and Lisa keep their milk supply abundant by bringing their own babies to their homes to be nursed by them.
This arrangement certainly helped Linda and Lisa keep their milk flowing, emptying their breasts far better than they could achieve with the manual pumps. Under these circumstances, close friendships developed among many of the women. It was occasional for most but just not a big deal. At the same time, the women of my community did find it necessary to develop an etiquette surrounding shared nursing.
On the other hand, I remember how much I ached to have a live baby at my breast during the first days of grief I experienced after the death of my prematurely born son in
This image inspired “restitute” in my series Mother Culture. In my mind, I could imagine the building pain and resentment a woman might feel in captivity, nursing the captors children. Breastfeeding her own child probably came second and as any nursing woman will tell you, nursing one baby on demand is a pretty…. This website is for sale!
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Having a healthy baby nursing at the breast will do just that. Also, women who wish to breastfeed an adopted child may cross-nurse to stimulate their breast milk supply. As long as proper infection precautions are observed, this is an excellent option. The cross-nursing mom should be healthy and well-nourished.
Before there were other ways to provide nutrition to babies such as formula , breastfeeding was the only source of food for infants. If a mother was not able to breastfeed her child, the child would not survive.
Not Your Mother’s Milk
A woman who suckles another woman’s child. Switch to new thesaurus. Mentioned in? References in periodicals archive?
Date(s): to Location(s): Many slaveholding women designated enslaved women to be wet nurses for the newly born white children. As Robert.
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The Wet-Nurses of Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt
A woman who suckles another woman’s child. Switch to new thesaurus. Mentioned in? References in classic literature? The wet nurse supported the coverlet with her while the priest with a goose feather anointed the boy’s little red and wrinkled soles and palms. View in context.
By hiring wet nurses, wealthy women could shorten interbirth intervals and freezing milk after expression, recording date of expressed milk on container, etc.
Social, cultural, and legal contexts in which the papyrus contracts were drawn, together with the particular fiscal and economic considerations that often lie behind the service agreements, caution against the Egyptian cases having universal relevance to the practice as it is documented in non-Egyptian and non-papyrological sources Bradley , This paper presents the extant evidence for nurses in papyri of Ptolemaic date and indicates the ways in which the hiring of wet nurses in Roman Egypt is markedly different from the practice documented for Italy and other parts of the empire.
Tax-registers P. Count from the Fayum include about fifty papyri. They preserve lists of adults, organized by village, occupation and social group, and by household, together with the taxes paid on their persons, livestock and trades. The evidence of the households derived from these registers document differences in marriage patterns, household size and composition Clarysse and Thompson Twelve nurses trophoi in Greek, mn-iry. To judge from names, most nurses were Egyptian and most worked in Greek families, but the tax documents are silent about their status.
Traditional practices, however, strongly suggest that Greek families used slave nurses while Egyptians hired free women Ibid.