When Mary Paton first became a mother in 1962 there was little written information on breastfeeding for mothers or health professionals.
That all changed when Mary founded the Nursing Mothers’ Association (NMA) in Melbourne in 1964.
Breastfeeding in the 1960s
Around the time when Mary gave birth to her first baby, breastfeeding support in Australia looked very different to how it is today.
Breastfeeds in hospital were strictly timed. Babies were kept in the nursery rather than rooming in with their mothers. They were brought to the mother for feeds at set times, whether they were awake or not. Access to the breast was restricted to just a few minutes at first, slowly working up to 10 minutes each side. Test-weighing after breastfeeds was common and newborns were often topped up with infant formula. Babies were kept in the nursery and fed infant formula through the night.
Such strict hospital practices made it hard to establish, let alone maintain, breastfeeding.