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Weaning and lactation cessation in late antiquity and the early byzantine period

Totelin, Laurence ORCID: 2023. Weaning and lactation cessation in late antiquity and the early byzantine period. Constantinou, Stavroula and Skouroumouni-Stavrinou, Aspasia, eds. Breastfeeding and mothering in antiquity and early Byzantium, London: Routledge, pp. 130-151. (10.4324/9781003265658-7)

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This chapter examines discussions of infant weaning and lactation cessation in the works of Byzantine medical authors, using other types of sources, including archaeological ones, to give broader context. It shows that medical authors were not very prescriptive about when to complete weaning but gave strong indications of when to initiate it. They generally recommended relatively long-term breastfeeding and did not discuss women’s methods to turn away children from the breasts. They did, however, provide some information on how to dry a woman’s milk, which might have been a necessity when an infant died, or if a woman (or her family) did not want to breastfeed. The chapter explores the cultural expectations that are implicit in these treatments to extinguish the milk. Thus, recipes to stop breastfeeding are sometimes accompanied by tips to keep the breasts pert, perhaps implying concerns over the perceived physical effects of breastfeeding.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DE The Mediterranean Region. The Greco-Roman World
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 9781003265658
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 3 November 2023
Last Modified: 20 Feb 2024 16:11

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