University of Hertfordshire

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Original languageEnglish
JournalWomen's Writing Journal
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 20 Jul 2022


Discussions about early modern miscarriage have considered in detail how women rationalized miscarriage framing the emotional burden of loss within the context of providence and sin. This valuable interpretation considers women from the moment at which the miscarriage had occurred. The experience of miscarriage, though, did not start at the moment of loss, it began with the first concerns that a foetus was at risk. By the time women were navigating their grief and considering their sins they had already spent time reading the signs of their bodies and consuming remedies to prevent the miscarriage from occurring. This paper investigates remedies designed to prevent miscarriage that were shared and recorded in manuscript recipe collections. These reveal a knowledge community that favoured recipes attested by women’s experiences. It shows that women adapted and reframed medicines for use when the body faced specific threats, and modified remedies based on their own use and experiences. The medicines circulating in the early modern period emphasize the central positions of women’s sensations and emotions to antenatal care. Remedies and treatments were based on women’s observations of patients, women’s observations of their bodies, their interpretations of bodily sensations and their apprehensions.

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