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Health and wellbeing in the ancient world
Health and wellbeing in the ancient world

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3 After birth: care of the newborn

In this section, you will examine what happened to children immediately after birth. You will also explore what happened to girls growing up towards puberty, and you’ll consider infertility.

Roman votive offering of a baby.
Figure 10 A clay-baked Roman votive offering of a baby

Activity 4

Soranus wrote about the care of the newborn child in his work on Gynecology. Read Soranus, Gynecology, Book 2 (sections 6–11) [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]   (pages 79–90).

Note down your reactions to what you have read. Were the treatments suggested hygienic from a modern perspective? Is there an element of ritual involved in the treatment? What tools and materials were used for treatment of the infant after it was born? How was a child fed?

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You will return to the practice of swaddling next week.