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Breast Feeding in the Victorian Era

January 25, 2011

We’ve looked at a typical Victorian’s breakfast and lunch. Let’s look at how babies were fed in Victorian days.

       After you read the posts, let me know what you think? Some good advice for the babies? Some bad? 

           My opinion? No wonder so many babies failed to survive their first few months!!!


Read some excerpts here.

Breast Feeding ……from the London Literary Gazette of 1827. The author (controversially) is against nursing mothers consuming ale and porter, considers ‘breast is best’ and, although he countenances wet-nursing, he does not think much of society women who ignore their moral duties (” the infant is left to mewl and writhe in the nurse’s lap, tormented with the cravings of hunger, while the unnatural mother is listening to the scandal of a coterie, or to the pretty vapourings of some empty dandy”) …

Plus read the wealth of information here Breast Feeding in the Victorian Era 

This advice from a wet nurse is priceless….. “La! ma’am,” says the old monthly attendant, “what nonsense the doctor speaks, about eating mild things and not drinking no ale nor porter: how can such a great boy be supported on such washy fare? I knows that milk never can’t be made without ale nor porter, ay, and brandy and water—and good living to boot.”

And this is what follows such advice …..the habit of the mother, which was cool and admirably fitted to secrete healthy nutriment for her babe, becomes heated and feverish; the functions of the lactiferous glands are disturbed; the supply of milk is diminished; and what is formed is of a bad quality.

Here is more of the authors thoughts on Breast Feeding in Victorian Society! What do you think?

……The same effect on the secretion of the milk is occasioned, at a later period, by the bustle of visiting, late hours, irregularity in the periods of suckling, and mental irritation. A woman, therefore, who intends to do her duty to her offspring, cannot be a nurse and a votary of fashion at the same time: and every source of anxiety, or of mental agitation, must be carefully avoided…….. thousands of infants are sacrificed annually to the necessities or the cupidity of their mothers, and to the unnatural habits of fashionable life, improper management, self-indulgence, or unrestrained temper.

       So the author concludes: …..breast milk, being prepared by nature for the support of the infant, is preferable to every other kind of food …..when the mother is healthy, and the supply of breast milk is sufficient, the infant should be supported on it alone. ……in order to secure a healthful and abundant supply of the breast milk, the diet of the mother or the nurse should be light, nutritive, and unstimulating; that her mind should be kept in a tranquil state; that every thing should he avoided which can hurry the circulation and heat the body; and when either mental or corporeal circumstances flurry the spirits or irritate the temper, the child must not be applied to the breast until the agitation have subsided …..infant should be suckled only at stated hours.

 From – The Cat’s Meat Shop: Breast Feeding.

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