I just finished reading a great book by Isabel Allende (who I love) about Haiti and Louisiana in the late 1700 and early 1800s. Slavery of course was a main theme in the book as the characters were mostly slaves, free blacks and slave owners. That isn't the point of this post though.
What I find interesting is when they mention the fact that slaves would wear their babies on their back and breastfeed their children, keeping them attached to them for the first 3-6 months until they were cared for by an older women on the plantation. Meanwhile the white people would birth a baby and it would almost immediately be taken away to a slave who would breastfeed it. If the the baby wouldn't take the milk then it would be given a rice or amaranth grain milk.
And this separation between mother and child of the upper classes continued through the revolution, the 1800s and 1900s until the 50s or 60s when the La Leche League and other groups of mothers got together and changed it.
Now what is in vogue? Attachment parenting, increased preference given to breastfeeding and if that doesn't work, a grain-based formula... How interesting that we are now living in a time that is trying to get back to what was natural in the 16, 17 and 1800s! From locavores to urban farming to attachment parenting we are trying to simplify our lives and stop being so detached from the cycle of life.
Good for us, but what has taken us so long?