Documents

  • Modern Mothers, Modern Babies - Breastfeeding and Mother’s Milk in Interwar Britain

    Accepted author manuscript, 411 KB, PDF-document

    Embargo ends: 31/12/99

In 1938, an obituary of Frederic Truby King, the New Zealand doctor who had founded the Mothercraft Training Society in London in 1918 announced that he had ‘hypnotise[d] thousands of mothers into the belief that breast feeding is the important factor in infant care…’ Truby King was certainly an influential figure in the promotion of ‘scientific breastfeeding’ in the interwar period, and this article investigates the position of breastfeeding in infant welfare and infant care advice directed at middle-class mothers in the interwar period. The infant welfare movement had traditionally targeted working-class mothers, but after 1918 there was a growing concern about reaching middle-class women too, who, according to contemporary observers, were less likely to breastfeed than working-class mothers. Positioned as the ‘natural’ way of feeding infants, breastfeeding was concurrently represented as the ‘modern’ and ‘scientific’ way of safeguarding babies’ healthy development. This article examines the development of the science of breastfeeding, which centred on the practice of breastfeeding and breast milk as a substance, and explores middle-class women’s experiences of breastfeeding in interwar Britain.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWomen's History Review
StateAccepted/In press - 3 Jul 2019

ID: 1203225