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Birth decline

ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


helina Report 30 Jan 2013 13:06

A friend and myself had a discussion about why was there a decline in the number of births at the beginning of the 20th centuary. Forgetting about the 2 World wars and the Boar war. How did this happen? No birth control until the 1960s. Up to about 1900 there were large families of 8 or more.

Has this only happened in my tree, I know I was not aware of it until the 1911 census came out.

Just interested to know what you think.



MargaretM Report 30 Jan 2013 13:09

No birth control until the 1960's? There were other methods besides the pill.


DazedConfused Report 30 Jan 2013 13:24

Have you not heard of Marie Stopes - look her up - she was a big promoter of Birth Control, also I think a supporter of Eugenics but her principles helped millions of working class women.

I have just looked at my g/g/grandmother and she and her husband had 9 children all with 2 year intervals. So people did know about methods, and although not anything like now, condoms were available.

And they are not the only ones I have noticed.

Me I was a baby boomer (1953)


brummiejan Report 30 Jan 2013 13:40

My grandparents decided to have no more than 2 children as a way of reducing poverty - this was in the 1920's! And they succeeded too.
Also depends when exactly you mean. When child mortality improved there was no need to have so many children.


Potty Report 30 Jan 2013 14:13

My grandparents had 14 children between 1890 and 1915 and only the first died in childhood. They obviously didn't know about contraception!


DazedConfused Report 30 Jan 2013 14:36

14 children in 25 years - that is almost 1 every other year, not yearly so they must have been very careful. Or you would expect 20+ children for a couple not practicing some sort of contraception or celibacy!!

I think we do not give our ancestors enough credit for having the nous on how to avoid unwanted pregnancies. Many women would have been told by their mother or other women how to avoid getting pregnant again and again.


MargaretM Report 30 Jan 2013 14:53

Actually breastfeeding provided a natural form of birth control (in most cases). A woman didn't usually become pregnant again until she stopped breastfeeding. Hence the usual 2 year gap.


Andrew Report 30 Jan 2013 15:06

I've seen any number of couples that were childless as well. No fertility treatment back then.



Jonesey Report 30 Jan 2013 16:26

My 3xGT Grandparents had 18 children (1795~1818). One of their grandsons had 13 children (1855~1885). One of his daughters married a man in 1902 who in 1905 founded a company which for a time was the worlds largest manufacturer of prophylactics (Condoms). She and her husband had just 2 children (1903~1905).

Therein may be the answer to Helina's question.


Reggie Report 30 Jan 2013 17:28

There most certainly was birth control in the early 20th century..................just because the 'pill' wasn't around doesn't mean that there weren't other means of limiting the size of a family.


helina Report 30 Jan 2013 18:36

Well certainly, apart from breast feeding, did not know there was any other type of birth control. So they had access to condoms to.



+++DetEcTive+++ Report 30 Jan 2013 19:47

Withdrawal? Vinegar douches? Not 100% effect, but must have had some effect!


Andysmum Report 30 Jan 2013 22:24

From Wikipedia

The history of condoms goes back at least several centuries, and perhaps beyond. For most of their history, condoms have been used both as a method of birth control, and as a protective measure against sexually transmitted diseases. Condoms have been made from a variety of materials; prior to the 19th century, chemically treated linen and animal tissue (intestine or bladder) are the best documented varieties. Rubber condoms gained popularity in the mid-19th century, and in the early 20th century major advances were made in manufacturing techniques. Prior to the introduction of the combined oral contraceptive pill, condoms were the most popular birth control method in the Western world. In the second half of the 20th century, the low cost of condoms contributed to their importance in family planning programs throughout the developing world. Condoms have also become increasingly important in efforts to fight the AIDS pandemic. The oldest condoms ever excavated were found in a cesspit located in the grounds of Dudley Castle and were made from animal membrane, the condoms dated back to as early as 1642.[1]


Reggie Report 30 Jan 2013 22:50

Well, if nothing else, you've learned something today, helina...........LOL!


DazedConfused Report 31 Jan 2013 14:29

I too was going to mention the Vinegar Douches and the popular 'withdrawal method' which is the only approved birth control method for catholics!!!

Anyway with regards to Breastfeeding. This is only partially effective as a birth control method (know an LAM) for the first 6 months afer the birth of the baby.

As a woman will usually start ovulating 6-8 weeks after the birth of her child she does stand a high chance of getting pregnant again,

How many of us have relatives who have had a 2 children in less than 1 year. My ex-husbands mother had 2 children in the same year 1952. One born January and the 2nd November of the same year and she always breatfed her children.


Janet Report 31 Jan 2013 21:29

Actually my mum (one of two children born 1924 and 1926) said she found condoms in my grandparents' bedside drawer when she was a they were definitely the reason I don't have more aunts and uncles !! ;-)


SylviaInCanada Report 1 Feb 2013 06:52

Not only that, but there were also herbal remedies ............. both to prevent conception, and to remove an unwanted fertiized ovum.

Every village would have had a woman who knew her herbals .................. any woman who thought she might be pregnant would have gone as quickly as possible to her.

The "lady of the big house" would also have been trained in herbals, certainly from very early days right up until the early 1800s. Knowledge of herbal remedies was considered very important, and part of "housewifely duties".

Such woman also existed in towns, and cities ............... the local herbal shop was a feature of life even into the 1960s. I well remember the one in my home town .............. and I was told that was where to go if I ever needed to. Knowledge passed on from girl to girl.

Apart form that, there would also be illegal abortions, and knowledge of how to cause an abortion. One famous one that I read about was to drink a pint of gin and then soak in a hot bath!! I have no idea whether it would work!!!!

"Girls of the night" most certainly knew how to protect themselves from both pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

............ and before you all start thinking things about me, part of my job in the 1970s and 1980s involved reading herbal books and journals to get information for articles my boss wrote!


jeannie Report 1 Feb 2013 09:54

having 2 children in one year is easy... its called twins, i have a set and so does my mother. must be genetic