Wet nurses...

Jibunnessa ycrnn14 at UCL.AC.UK
Fri May 8 04:14:42 UTC 1998

Dear Indologists

Recently reading a paper by Warren Harvey, I
came across something which had never occurred
to me before, but the images of which will
probably remain etched in my thoughts for some

It s not anything to do with India, but my
discussion will be.

Anyway, his paper is largely about dental &
social conditions in London between 1696-1852,
and in it, he states that, due to the unsanitary
water conditions, ale drinking was very common
and people were even often prescribed this by
doctors.  However, what I found really interesting
was that elderly and sick patients at hospitals,
such as St. Bartholomew s, were given wet nurses
as a safe drinking alternative to water.

I suppose, from a purely pragmatic perspective,
this was a good idea!  But, it does beg the
question  So what did the wet nurses drink?   Also,
was this a quaint London custom?  Or was it
practised in other places/cultures as well, ...such
as in India?

Does anyone know of any historical/textual references
to this in the Indian context?

All fascinating comments welcome!

All the best


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