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History of Motherhood: Renaissance

  • By: Shawna Herzog
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

Fostering and caring for children was the primary responsibility of women during the Renaissance (roughly 1500–1800). The Renaissance saw the emergence of the first European colonies and the rise of centralized governments and nation-states, as well as the beginnings of modern science and geographic exploration.

According to Renaissance social attitudes, women existed to be mothers. As one of the most important purposes of marriage, women used a variety of methods to increase their fertility; once pregnant, they depended on other women for advice and remedies to ease their symptoms, prepare for labor, and assist with delivery. Pregnancy and childbirth were fraught with dangers, and at times, was a lethal condition for both mother and child. If both survived the delivery, high infant mortality rates as a ...

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