And its a BOY! Our new addition to the family is very cute and has currently taken residence of the lounge room!
To celebrate this occasion, I wanted to share with you some advice given to mothers upon the birth of their babies, published in Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia (1910).
Firstly, the high rate of infant mortality (statistics of one in five is stated in this article) was considered quite costly to the English nation. And 75% of these deaths were attributed (by the author of this article) to the early introduction of “harmful foods”. In these days, cows milk was not routinely pasteurised and so was considered problematic for a baby’s consumption, especially when it could not be obtained fresh from a cow. As a result, the writer recommends exclusive breastfeeding as best for the baby.
Every mother, then, who can nurse her baby should make it her duty, as well as her pleasure to do so, and provided she is reasonably healthy, looks after herself properly, and feeds the baby at regular intervals, there is no reason why her milk should not amply suffice. It is a well-known fact that breast-fed babies vary rarely suffer from rickets, diarrhoea, convulsions, or any of the troubles which beset the baby brought up by hand [hand/bottle feeding rather than breast feeding].
And after giving a description on how to tell if a baby is thriving on breast milk, the author goes on to give advice to the nursing mother.
…the nursing mother must be very careful of herself for the baby’s sake. She should eat good, plain food, with milk and cocoa, or good oatmeal gruel, avoiding too much tea, and unless ordered by the doctor, all alcoholic drinks. She must avoid hot places of amusement, late hours, and worry or excitement.
Mental note to self: Avoid hot places of amusement…
Thereafter comes some advice for mothers who cannot nurse their baby, for whatever reason. Cow’s milk must be modified to suit the baby’s digestive system better. It should be sterilised and pasteurised if it cannot be got fresh. It then needs to be diluted with barley-water, fresh cream added, and sugar of milk added. Just reading the rigmarole of cow’s milk modification makes me grateful for the invention of formula!
One sees how Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia was probably an invaluable source of information to the women of this era. Its advice is fairly sensible, especially when compared to much of the other types of advice given to women throughout history, and the publication covers a wide range of issues and topics that the Edwardian housewife would encounter.