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Thread: Paleo Family Planning Today?

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    Senior Member Catterick's Avatar
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    Paleo Family Planning Today?

    Birth rates in the Paleolithic?

    There is a whole literature out there on paleo food, the idea that we are digital men and women living in stone age bodies and that we need to eat in a stone age fashion. But what about the idea that we should also live other aspects of our lives as stone agers among the skyscrapers and plane-crowded skies? An intriguing example of this is child-bearing. What is the natural number of children for a woman to have in a lifetime? Human societies have given lots of different answers to this question: from ten or twelve in medieval and early modern societies, to 1.8 in post-industrial western countries. However, in hunter-gatherer societies there seems to be a relatively standard number: and that is perhaps the closest we can come to a natural paleo response to the question. A typical woman in a paleo society would have had anything from 3 to 5 children. She would have had her first child in her mid late teens, then she would have had children every five years or so: perhaps half would have made it to adulthood, a surprisingly number looking at some of the grim contexts in which human beings have lived; of course, hunter-gatherer societies are not supposed to get bigger.

    Why so few children? Much is made of the idea that hunter-gatherers just can’t do with kids popping out every year: they are on the move and free… However, the single biggest factor seems to have been the long (by our standards) periods of nursing in pre-neolithic societies, dramatically reducing fertility. Breast-feeding is not the most reliable form of contraception: particularly if you are breast-feeding just a couple of times a day, as with many modern mothers. But in a paleo society (thinking of modern hunter-gatherer societies) a mother would breast feed frequently, up to four years of age. Beach cannot speak to the advantages of health from late breastfeeding: though he has been fascinated at the way that in Italy anyone breastfeeding after a year and a half will be made to feel very uncomfortable. But the striking change in family life – again against modern wisdom – is, meanwhile, that sibling rivalry plummets. If you are five when your baby brother is born you will likely have semi-maternal or semi-paternal relations: whereas if you are three there will be intense, if not hateful rivalry for many years (or for life). Think also of family patterns. If, in a paleo society, you make it to fifteen then your chances of making it to about 60 are relatively good. A sixty year old woman then might have five children: aged 40, 35, 30, 25 and 20 at her death. She would live to see grandchildren and just conceivably newborn great grandchildren. It is an interesting contrast, say, with Roman society where you were unlikely to live past fifty and where you were rather unlikely to see your children’s children growing up.
    http://www.strangehistory.net/2016/0...lessons-today/

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    Senior Member Catterick's Avatar
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    Up till the early modern period wet nursing was used to regulate human fertility here in Europe (Betzig). The reason Africa's population exploded was - partly - colonialists abolishing the same custom (Gayre).

    Gayre was concerned by overpopulation but wary of the propaganda: http://unz.org/Pub/MankindQuarterly-1971jul-00003

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    The pubic bones spread apart for childbirth and then move back near each other in their more day to day position. The agency which moves them back into place are ligaments which run from one surface of the pubic bone to the other, then contract. The pulling leaves raised scars of the face of the pubic bones. By the amount of scaring anthropologists know how many children that particular woman had in life. This scaring varies with race and local race but with Europeans what we have now would have been the way it was then, we have not changed that much, so estimates of the number of children would be very good.

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