Introduction | A Woman's Power | Breastfeeding  | The Mother's Duty | The "Dangerously Good" Mother | The "Naturally Bad" Mother

A Woman’s Power: Pregnancy and Childbirth in the Romantic Era

Mother and ChildRomantic era debates over childbirth practices brought the private space of the womb into the arena of public debate.
In a 1763 letter, Samuel Johnson stated, "Nature has given women so much power, that the law wisely has given them little." In the Romantic era, the ability to bear children was considered woman’s foundational contribution to society, but it was also a source of concern, since this power, if left unchecked, would pose a threat to social order. The growth of the medical field of obstetrics and the debates over the reproductive power brought the private space of the womb into the arena of public debate.

Medical advances created a shift in negative attitudes toward midwifery, a traditionally female occupation, and women in increasing numbers were attended by male physicians who employed new technologies, including forceps, fillets, and other equipment, to assist in extracting the child from the mother. Mary Shelley’s Julia McLeod






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