In researching pregnancy in the 17th century, I came upon a treasure-trove of information on 17th century daily life in Holland compiled by art historian Kees Kaldenbach.

The facts of daily life are deducted in part from the detailed inventories of the Vermeer household and paintings.

I intend to go into more detail later, but one historical tidbit I found fascinating.

If a baby does not suck strongly, a mother’s milk can begin dry up. That’s as true today as it was 1000 years ago.

We remedy this problem today with the use of breast pumps. In the 17th century, however (at least in Holland), one could hire certain elderly ladies to suck. It’s not known if the milk was then given mouth-to-mouth to the baby or put into a pewter feeding bottle.

For my recent blog posts on this theme:

Where are all the pregnant women?

Before “Babies ‘n Bellies,” what did pregnant women wear?