19th century care of premature babies

I am reading Pierre Budin " The Nursling" 1907 -and it is an extraordinary read.

Can't help but smile at the idea that in France in the 1800's medical professionals recognised the advantgage of keeping mother and baby together. So much for progress as for the most part in UK mothers are not able to be with their babies. I understand that in some Scandanavian countries they can. Pierre Budin observed:-

"In 1885, Professor Pajot, in this Clinique, prepared a chamber as a giant incubator in which to place infants, congenitally feeble, so that they might not be exposed to cold when they were being fed or changed. The wet-nurses, however, were obliged to feed and tend them in this oven; and the mothers, separated from their infants, soon lost all interest in those whom they were unable to nurse or cherish.

It is better by far to put the little one in an incubator by its mother's bedside. The supervision which she exercises is not to be lightly estimated. We have not always a staff so zealous as the present; and if the nurse be negligent, the mother does not fail to remark that the incubator is being allowed to grow cold. Further, it is possible, as you will see, so to arrange that the mother feeds the infant herself, and thus on leaving the hospital not only will the weakling have been saved, but a suckling mother will also have been conserved to it."

Edited June 18, 2011 at 5:12 pm

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6 replies. Join the discussion

Exlux, thanks for posting. It's interesting to know how people in the past (more than a century ago!) deal with "feeble infants" as what they called. I want to read the book as well, luckily it's available online.

For those of you who is interested...

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It is amazing....and touching too, to hear of how these little ones were referred to as "weaklings" and " feeble infants" - the risk and fear of infection must have been terrifying. Thanks for posting link.

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Fascinating. Thanks for sharing!

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Interesting. My Great-grandfather was born prematurely weighing 2 pounds. That would have been in the mid 1880's. Curious what the standards were back then, if there were any. He was the son of 2 doctors who kept him warm in the warming oven, and dripped mother's milk into his mouth, I am told. He grew up to become a doctor himself, and loved delivering babies.

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Rainysmom- love that image of a wee baby in the warming oven. I know of farmers who still put newborn (early) lambs in the Aga warming oven today. Lovely!

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Oh my goodness. Love this. Definitely reading this book this summer.

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