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Giving Birth in Eighteenth-Century England

A history of childbirth in the eighteenth century as told by women.
This fascinating new book radically rewrites all that we know about eighteenth-century childbirth by placing women’s voices at the center of the story. Examining childbirth from the perspective of the birthing woman, this research offers new perspectives on the history of the family, the social history of medicine, community and neighborhood studies, and the study of women’s lives in eighteenth-century England. 

From “quickening” through to “confinement,” “giving caudle,” delivery, and “lying-in,” birth was once a complex ritual that involved entire communities. Drawing on an extensive and under-researched body of materials, such as letters, diaries, and recipe books, this book offers critical new perspectives on the history of the family, community, and the lives of women in the coming age of modern medicine. It unpacks the rituals of contemporary childbirth—from foods traditionally eaten before and after birth, birthing clothing, and how a woman’s relationship with her family, husband, friends, and neighbors changed during and after pregnancy. In this important and deeply moving study, we are invited onto a detailed and emotional journey through motherhood in an age of immense socio-cultural and intellectual change.

250 pages | 3 halftones | 6 1/2 x 9 3/4

New Historical Perspectives

History: British and Irish History

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"Backed by impeccable research, including analysis of troves of archived letters, Fox focuses on birthing in 18th-century England as a process shaped by women's experiences within a complex context of social and cultural practices... Highly recommended."


Table of Contents


Birth and the Body

Birth in the Household

Food and Birth

The Birth Family

Birth in the Community


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