A Social History of Wet Nursing in America: From Breast to Bottle / Edition 1

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Overview

A Social History of Wet Nursing in America: From Breast to Bottle examines the intersection of medical science, social theory, and cultural practices as they shaped relations among wet nurses, physicians, and families from the colonial period through the twentieth century. It explores how Americans used wet nursing to solve infant feeding problems, shows why wet nursing became controversial as motherhood slowly became medicalized, and elaborates how the development of scientific infant feeding eliminated wet nursing by the beginning of the twentieth century. Janet Golden's study contributes to our understanding of the cultural authority of medical science, the role of physicians in shaping child rearing practices, the social construction of motherhood, and the profound dilemmas of class and culture that played out in the private space of the nursery.

The book contains no figures.

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Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Sallie Page-Goertz, MN, PNP, IBCLC (University of Kansas School of Medicine)
Description: This scholarly work chronicles the social history of wet nursing in America from 18th century through the early 20th century. The intertwining forces of culture, society, economics, science, and medicine and their effect on what happens in the nursery are elucidated. As these forces change, the practice of wet nursing evolves as well. This evolution is described via a wide variety of sources, including first-person accounts from diaries and early texts on childrearing.
Purpose: This book seeks to answer the question "... why Americans rejected wet nursing, assuming that what 'science' produced was superior to what 'nature' provided." The author seeks to look at the broadest framework for the evolution of wet nursing — changes in social class divisions, society's views of motherhood, and the authority of physicians.
Audience: Those wanting to know more regarding the history of infant feeding will enjoy this exploration of one spectrum of childrearing. These might include practitioners in family medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, history of medicine, dietitians, nurses, and lactation consultants.
Features: The book is extensively referenced. Footnotes direct one to other sources that provide more detail, as well as making pertinent asides. The index is detailed.
Assessment: This is a well-written and interesting chronicle of a phenomenon not well understood today. Exhaustive research, which includes fascinating vignettes from diaries of families, documents the enmeshment of forces on childrearing practices throughout American history. This book provides a wonderful historical perspective from which to view the profound influence of societal change on infant feeding practices and mothering today. The role played by physicians and the infant formula industry on women, families, and childrearing at the closing of the twentieth century has its roots intertwined in the history of wet nursing so skillfully described by Golden. The book is a welcome addition to the library.
Sallie Page-Goertz
This scholarly work chronicles the social history of wet nursing in America from 18th century through the early 20th century. The intertwining forces of culture, society, economics, science, and medicine and their effect on what happens in the nursery are elucidated. As these forces change, the practice of wet nursing evolves as well. This evolution is described via a wide variety of sources, including first-person accounts from diaries and early texts on childrearing. This book seeks to answer the question ""... why Americans rejected wet nursing, assuming that what 'science' produced was superior to what 'nature' provided."" The author seeks to look at the broadest framework for the evolution of wet nursing—changes in social class divisions, society's views of motherhood, and the authority of physicians. Those wanting to know more regarding the history of infant feeding will enjoy this exploration of one spectrum of childrearing. These might include practitioners in family medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, history of medicine, dietitians, nurses, and lactation consultants. The book is extensively referenced. Footnotes direct one to other sources that provide more detail, as well as making pertinent asides. The index is detailed. This is a well-written and interesting chronicle of a phenomenon not well understood today. Exhaustive research, which includes fascinating vignettes from diaries of families, documents the enmeshment of forces on childrearing practices throughout American history. This book provides a wonderful historical perspective from which to view the profound influence of societal change on infant feeding practices and mothering today. The roleplayed by physicians and the infant formula industry on women, families, and childrearing at the closing of the twentieth century has its roots intertwined in the history of wet nursing so skillfully described by Golden. The book is a welcome addition to the library.

4 Stars! from Doody
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521495448
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/1996
  • Series: History of Medicine Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; Introduction; Chapter One, Public Discourse and Private Relations: Wet Nursing in Colonial America; Chapter Two, The New Motherhood and the New View of Wet Nurses, 1780–1865; Chapter Three, Finding 'just the right kind of woman': The Urban Wet Nurse Marketplace, 1830–1900; Chapter Four, 'Victims of Distressing Circumstances': The Wet Nurse Labor Force and the Offspring of Wet Nurses, 1860–1910; Chapter Five, Medical Oversight and Medical Dilemmas: The Physician and the Wet Nurse, 1870–1910; Chapter Six, 'Obliged to have wet nurses': Relations in the Private Household, 1870–1925; Chapter Seven, 'Therapeutic Merchandise': Human Milk in the Twentieth Century; Epilogue, From Commodity to Gift

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