Breast pump in fishskin-covered case, late 18th or early 19th century
Milk was extracted from a nursing woman’s breast using this device. It is made from brass and glass. The pump may have been used by the mother of the child or by a wet nurse. Wet nurses were employed by families to breastfeed their children. They were seen by wealthy families as a status symbol. Wet nursing was popular from the 1500s. However, it had virtually died out by the early 1900s. Wet nursing was also used when the mother of the child had died or was ill. Artificial milk products such as powders are now often used when a mother cannot produce milk. Wet nursing continues in some parts of the world.