Sunday, March 14, 2010

Babies in America: A Special Report

My wife is scheduled to be induced into labor on Tuesday the 16th. It will be our second child and we are very excited to welcome our second bundle of joy into the world. But, my aim is not to use this space to waste everyone's time with my personal life. Instead, this upcoming event got me thinking about how we view childbirth, babies, and motherhood and how those views may or may not have changed through American history. This particular post is about questions more than answers.

How did the dangers of childbirth color the experience of delivery before modern medicine? How much did consumerism change the experience of welcoming a new child into the world? How many fathers were detached from this experience before feminism?

I’m sure there are books on this subject. This post is written in haste and ignorance, but I think it would be an interesting area to study. New parents are inundated with all kinds of information and products. There must have been some kind of progression that led us to where we are today. Quick Frozen Foods and the coalition of companies that made TV dinners informed the public on how to use their products and created advertising that convinced consumers that their products were beneficial for their families.

Therefore, a trail-blazing entrepreneur in concert with a league of similarly-interested corporations would have had to work to create an environment where their products were viable. Was there a publication similar to Quick Frozen Foods in the baby industry? Did television play the same role in educating consumers about the role their products would play in their lives? Were the inherent issues of conflict and inequality present in race, class, and gender in the marketing of baby food, formula, toys, car seats, cribs, books (for babies and their parents), television shows, and so on??

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