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"To have a gradual weaning & be ready & wiling to resign all": Maternity, Piety, and Pain among Quaker Women of the Early Mid-Atlantic

"To have a gradual weaning & be ready & wiling to resign all": Maternity, Piety, and Pain among... <p>abstract:</p><p>Interactions among the spiritual, emotional, and corporeal were significant factors in the history of white women, childbirth, and child death in the early American republic. Though the social, cultural, and medical meanings of parturiency and motherhood have been studied by historians of early America, the spiritual aspects of reproduction have largely been ignored. Female Friends infused childbearing with religious meaning to contain its accompanying pain and fear as well as to express its joy and pleasure. This form of childbirth incorporated the mind and body into a spirituality built on obedience, modesty, perseverance, and discipline. The succession of pregnancy, delivery, nursing, child rearing, and sickness (both related and unrelated to reproduction) in a Quaker woman&apos;s life induced not only physical frailty but also spiritual reflection. Pregnancy and childbirth raised the possibility of an early death at the same time they afforded women the means to interact with God and to ask for his mercy and support. Piety channeled the existential and emotional dilemmas posed by pregnancy, childbirth, and child loss. By surveying the religious significance of bodies, pain, and emotion among early American Friends, this essay contends that the experiential aspects of Quaker motherhood were thoroughly steeped in spirituality.</p> http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal University of Pennsylvania Press

"To have a gradual weaning & be ready & wiling to resign all": Maternity, Piety, and Pain among Quaker Women of the Early Mid-Atlantic

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Publisher
University of Pennsylvania Press
Copyright
Copyright © The McNeil Center for Early American Studies.
ISSN
1559-0895

Abstract

<p>abstract:</p><p>Interactions among the spiritual, emotional, and corporeal were significant factors in the history of white women, childbirth, and child death in the early American republic. Though the social, cultural, and medical meanings of parturiency and motherhood have been studied by historians of early America, the spiritual aspects of reproduction have largely been ignored. Female Friends infused childbearing with religious meaning to contain its accompanying pain and fear as well as to express its joy and pleasure. This form of childbirth incorporated the mind and body into a spirituality built on obedience, modesty, perseverance, and discipline. The succession of pregnancy, delivery, nursing, child rearing, and sickness (both related and unrelated to reproduction) in a Quaker woman&apos;s life induced not only physical frailty but also spiritual reflection. Pregnancy and childbirth raised the possibility of an early death at the same time they afforded women the means to interact with God and to ask for his mercy and support. Piety channeled the existential and emotional dilemmas posed by pregnancy, childbirth, and child loss. By surveying the religious significance of bodies, pain, and emotion among early American Friends, this essay contends that the experiential aspects of Quaker motherhood were thoroughly steeped in spirituality.</p>

Journal

Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary JournalUniversity of Pennsylvania Press

Published: Oct 10, 2019

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