Childbirth, Midwives, and Pregnancy in the 16-17th Century

That Shakespeare Life

“Pregnant” is a word Shakespeare uses in his plays, but it always appears in connection with ideas, grief, or even trauma, but never as a word to describe a woman that is carrying an unborn baby. Instead, whenever a woman is carrying a child in her uterus in Shakespeare’s works, the phrase used is “with child.” This divergence between Shakespeare’s language and how we are accustomed to using the word “pregnant” today is just one way Shakespeare’s plays help shed light on the surprising world of pregnancy and childbirth for Shakespeare’s lifetime. During the 16-17th century, there were many unusual beliefs about how a woman could become pregnant, the right way to prepare for giving birth, and details on the process of labor. Here today to help us explore the history of pregnancy, childbirth, and midwives from Shakespeare’s lifetime are our guests, Michelle Ephraim and Caroline Bicks.   Get bonus episodes on Patreon

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