University of Hertfordshire

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Original languageEnglish
JournalHistorical Research
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 11 Aug 2022

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.

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