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 "Mamas, don't let your ...

 "Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys..." They may not have known it, but when Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson crooned that line in 1978, they were speaking to a centuries-long paradox in the lives of American mothers. For much of American history, women were excluded from public life, but at the same time, were expected to raise the "good citizens" that kept society functioning.

How did the "medicalization" of childbirth impact mothering practices in the late 19th century? Has a century's worth of professional parenting advice made mothers' lives easier or just more stressful? 

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