Pregnancy and Motherhood

This page concentrates in the main on experiences and thoughts of Anglo Saxon and 13th Century costume with regard to pregnancy and child rearing. Little comes down to us of their experiences so this is very much from a modern reconstruction perspective.

The typical costume is well suited to pregnancy and moves out with you, I found unbelted suited me best.

To breast feed I adapted the under tunic, to incorporate two vertical slits over the breasts, these were inside deep pleats so in natural fall stayed closed, but allowed easy access. The design was based on a medieval painting of the Madonna and child, breast feeding. This design was used by me across 5th, 13th and 15th century costumes and needed only one under tunic to be made specifically for the purpose, the over garments changed the period !

Below is a picture of me feeding in 5th Century clothing.

Source Pictures (13th Century)

There are many suggested 'facts' about motherhood in this period. Often sources suggest that women we depleted in iron and other nutrients as a result of motherhood. However there is little evidence of this. Women would have had far fewer periods than today, and women are less likely to lose iron on a daily basis than men, without bleeding or via other stresses. Women would generally breast feed between children, this suppressed ovulation and therefore periods. Typically agrarian women space children 2 years apart, this suggest a feeding regime extending to year 2 of a child's life.

Another popular suggestion is that women dies in childbirth extensively. Whilst some undoubtedly did, it is hard to find any evidence to back this up. Few skeletal remains are found with stuck children. 13th Coroners reports do not show a higher level of female over male deaths. It is hard to trace women who may have died from excessive bleeding or infection. But at present I am reluctant to jump on board these popular assumptions.

What this space for more research on the subject !

Back to main 5th Century page

Back to main 13th Century page

Email me