A mother, yet not ‘mother’: the occupation of wet-nursing

Thorley, Virginia (2015) A mother, yet not ‘mother’: the occupation of wet-nursing. Journal of Family Studies, 21 3: 305-323. doi:10.1080/13229400.2015.1108993

Author Thorley, Virginia
Title A mother, yet not ‘mother’: the occupation of wet-nursing
Journal name Journal of Family Studies   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1322-9400
Publication date 2015-12-28
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/13229400.2015.1108993
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 21
Issue 3
Start page 305
End page 323
Total pages 19
Place of publication Melbourne, Australia
Publisher Routledge
Language eng
Abstract The wet-nurse hired to breastfeed an unrelated infant was herself a mother, whether her child was born alive or stillborn. Yet paradoxically her motherhood was subsumed in the nature of her employment and the existence of her own baby ignored, as she was valued only for her milk. Her workplace was the employer's home, her own home, or an institution. Occupational conditions were far from homogenous, as were the effects of her employment on her own life and that of her child. This article explores meanings of motherhood where a mother was not acknowledged as a mother, and where her welfare and that of her own child were subsumed to the interests of another mother's child. She ‘mothered’ this other child, yet could never be considered a mother to her. The personal and health repercussions for the wet-nurse and her own baby are discussed in this context.
Keyword Wet-nurse
Occupational health
Congenital syphilis
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry
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Created: Wed, 06 Jan 2016, 01:19:33 EST by Lucy O'Brien on behalf of School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry