Women in the advanced stages of pregnancy customarily withdrew from court for a period of "lying in" or "confinement" that usually began about 40 days prior to the expected time of delivery. And they usually remained confined for 40 days following delivery, at which point they were "churched" ... a religious purification ritual. You can read up on it in David Cressy's Birth, Marriage and Death: Ritual, Religion, and the Life Cycle in Tudor and Stuart England. It is a fasincating and highly readable book.
During Elizabeth's reign, married pregnant ladies-in-waiting frequently continued to serve the queen right up until a few weeks before the birth at which time they retired to a nearby family home. This could be a home in London, or the surrounding area. If no convenient place was nearby they may have traveled farther to a country home.For example Henry and Anne Carey had three children born at Hunsdon. Both parents served Elizabeth. Hunsdon was their near-to-London family home. (Henry Carey was baron Hunsdon). In addition, their daughter, Philadelphia Carey Scrope, maid of the court and then lady of the privy chamber, gave birth to her son Emmanual at Hunsdon, her family home but not at her husband Thomas Scrope's home. Emmanual was born August 1, 1584 and I believe Philadelphia was at court through the early summer.Katherine Carey Howard, baroness Effingham later countess of Nottingham and long time lady-in-waiting to Elizabeth gave birth to her son William Howard on Dec 27, 1577 and he was baptized on January 3 1578 at Reigate, Surrey. Yet it seems she was most likely at court through the autumn of 1577 and she was back early in 1578. The queen did not like to do without her.There are several examples of women serving up to the final 30 days (40 days if the queen allowed) of their pregnancy and then coming back to court almost immediately after they had recovered and been 'churched'.
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