‘it bringeth them into dangerous perill’: Management of and recovery from miscarriage in early modern England c. 1600-1750

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Abstract

Early modern women frequently experienced miscarriages at different stages of their pregnancies. Scholarly investigation has revealed the emotional strain this placed on women and how women rationalized their experiences within social and religious frameworks. This process of reconciliation was not divorced from women’s physical experiences. Women’s bodies were altered by pregnancy and miscarriage was perceived as a uniquely dangerous outcome for women’s health. Medical literature, diary entries, and personal correspondence show that women experienced significant pain, discomfort, illness, and lingering medical issues including retention of the foetus and placenta, haemorrhaging, headaches, and fertility issues. Women thus needed time and medical interventions to recover from miscarriage. This article argues that to understand fully responses to miscarriage in the early modern period we need to reintegrate the physical toll that pregnancy and pregnancy loss took on the body.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalHistorical Research
Early online date14 Dec 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2023

Keywords

  • early modern England
  • miscarriage
  • women's history
  • pregnancy loss
  • pregnancy

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