Monday 16 June 2014

14th Century Clothing for Pregnancy, Motherhood and Infancy

When the last week before my due date was coming up I thought it would be fun to see if my ordinary yellow kirtle could still be worn. It could, after a fashion. Laced loosely, and hitched up over the bump it worked well. It did look quite a bit like some medieval images of heavily pregnant women.

Four years ago to the left - before marriage and children.
A week before the due date of my second baby to the right.
While I was at it I thought I might as well take a few pictures, so I improvised a tolerably 14th century looking (or at least neutral) corner in our bedroom. I did the same thing all over again a week after our second son was born (Announcement!), now with both my little ones as models as well. Baby didn’t mind being swaddled at all – the fact that he slept through the whole thing might possibly have had something to do with that. How he would like it when awake I can’t tell. B liked his cotte that he never got round to wearing last year, as all our events were cancelled. This year we haven’t even planned any, what with the baby being so little and all.

Anyway, here are some of the pictures, telling the story of a heavily pregnant, late 14th century woman, the beginnings of her labour, the quiet time after baby’s arrival, and her being back on her feet. 

The skirt is quite a bit shorter in front as it's hitched 
up over the bump, but the dress is still quite wearable.

Ready when you are - come out baby!

Baby is wearing a linen coif, swaddled in one of my linen veils, wich is secured by wool tapes. 

The "14th century bedroom", with a baby on the bed.

Mother of two, the older one wearing a long cotte, the little one swaddled.
Mum is wearing the same old dress...

I had wished to have done something more, like being in a real location, having my friends pose as helpers, like in so many medieval illustrations of childbirth, but this was better than nothing. I call it a study of taking tolerable pictures of ones historical clothes, without any location and hardly any props.

Our youngest son is so far an easy baby to care for. He's a dear, and fits well in our family. I can't help but kiss him all the time. The labour and delivery was easier than the first time, and well functioning breast feeding has been established much quicker. Having two children to love and care for is a true gift. Tobias and I have been greatly blessed.


  1. Congratulations on the new arrival, Sarah. :) You have two beautiful children, and so beautifully garbed, too. My Finnish friend has a little one about as old as B. Last weekend we took her to her first fair and she was quite an attraction, bouncing around in her little cloak and dress.

  2. Still lovely pictures. They convey such a sense of you with a new little one. Really sweet! Thanks for sharing. Danielle

  3. Awww! This is such a sweet idea! :D

  4. you look beautiful in these pictures with your darling children! blessings indeed!

  5. Congratulations on the new arrival, and the family portrait is lovely.

  6. Another sweet boy! Both of your children looked precious in the little tableau you set up. Congratulations on the birth of your son!

  7. Congratulations! You three look lovely!! Best wishes, Eva

  8. What a lovely idea! And a bit WELCOME to the new arrival! I hope you all will be very happy together!

  9. Great pictures! Congratulations on the new arrival! Great to see (I'm waiting for mine, due next week...)

  10. Congratulations to you, the new baby boy and your family!
    Wonderful blogpost :)


  11. Congratulations on your new little one! I love that you are already including him in history.

    Your photo essay is just beautiful, and I love your kirtle in both its pre and during pregnancy forms. And of course it makes sense that most medieval mothers couldn't afford to make different garments for when they were expecting.

  12. Thanks! Well, babies don't keep, so if I wanted pictures of him swaddled, I'd better hurry before he got old enough to have other ideas ;)


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