Baby Care Products and Childbirth History

Traditionally breastfeeding was always encouraged as the earliest form of newborn care. There simply wasn't another other way of feeding baby. If a woman was unable to breastfeed her own child, another woman who was already breastfeeding would sometimes take over the feeding. This type of woman was referred to as a wet nurse by the 1800s. During the Victorian era in the mid to late 1800s, affluent women rarely breastfed their own children and hired out the "work" to a wet nurse. In America, the use of wet nurses was more common and had already been used for generations in the south where slaves regularly breastfed and took care of the children from affluent families.

If breastfeeding wasn't an option, some babies were fed pap. Pap could be considered one of the earliest baby care products and was made of a mix of bread, water and sugar. Milk was often added later to the mixture.

Baby Food

Throughout history babies who were old enough were fed a mashed or a softened version of the same foods adults ate. In the 1700s and most of the 1800s baby food was made at home and sometimes specialized recipes could be found in cookbooks

In 1867 the first commercial baby food was developed and marketed to women during pregnancy. Scientist Baron Justus von Liebig of London, England, introduced Liebig's Soluble Food for Babies and sold it through his company, Liebig's Registered Concentrated Milk Company. By 1869 the product was available in the United States.

Gerber baby food was launched in 1928 in the United States as an affordable infant food. It was significantly cheaper than the food available for babies at local pharmacies. Part of the success of Gerber and later types of baby food was the recommendation of medical experts that fruits and vegetables be added to a baby's diet. Strained peas, carrots, spinach and prunes were a few of the company's earliest products.

Infant Skin Care Through History

Baby skin care wasn't always what it is today. Now we regularly wash our babies and even cover them with special lotions and oils to help moisturize their delicate skin. In the 1800s bathing wasn't as common and in many cases there were no special procedures or routines for baby care. Often the natural oils of the baby would be left alone to do their job of moisturizing skin. If there were skin problems, herbs were sometimes used to fix the problem.

Natural Childbirth and Baby Care

There are some advocates of natural childbirth who say that it is the best option for delivering a healthy child into the world. Their argument is that there is never the concern that any of the medications have transferred to the baby before the child was born.

The choice of a drug-free labor and delivery is a personal choice that ultimately only the mother-to-be can make. Most modern drugs used to relieve the pain of labor are safe if used correctly. But it is possible to manage your pregnancy pain without harmful or dangerous drugs.

A support person is crucial. Medical studies show that women who labor without the support of someone they trust tend to have a harder time handling labor pain. A husband or boyfriend is a good choice assuming there's a good relationship and the man isn't little more than a sperm donor. If the father of your child isn't a good choice for a support person, consider your mother, sister, best friend, or even a doula.

Movement can help you manage labor pain. Most people tend to automatically rock when they're in any type of pain and this holds true for labor pain as well. Bouncing on a ball can help as can rocking in a rocking chair during contractions. Counter pressure applied to your lower back can relieve pressure during contractions. Some women find music or aromatherapy useful.

Breathing techniques can help with labor as well and there are many methods taught in birth preparation classes that you can try.


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