Hospitals’ Stamp of Approval

I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading on historical breastfeeding of late just to give some context to the photographs I have been sharing with you. Thank goodness for Google Book Search or else I wouldn’t be able to find as much great information as I have.

This morning I was fixated with a book called Don’t Kill Your Baby. Many of you probably know it very well. In fact, I have read it before, but it seems that every time I re-read I find a fact or a point that I’ve missed before.

I thought this quote was quite telling about how breastfeeding rates began to decline in the 1930s. It all started in the hospitals with their insistence that mothers did now instinctively know how to care for their own babies. This caused many of the mothers to be separated from their babies for up to 24 hours sometimes and in that period their babies had already been introduced to baby formula. Check out this quote about how milk companies got into the hospitals to stake their dominance over infant feeding.

The expectant mother may first hear about PET milk when learning about formula preparations in the hospital’s orientation class. She and her husband may select the baby’s name from a list supplied by a company medical relations representative. The name card on her baby’s crib in the hospital nursery may bear the PET insignia. Most important her baby’s first bottle of formula may very well be made with PET brand evaporated milk. The “little things” add up to a convincing acceptance of the PET brand.

Above is the nursery at the Cairns General Hospital at the FSA (Farm Security Administration) farm workers’ community in February 1942. Eleven Mile Corner, Arizona.

And here are the babies the bottles are intended for.

Wolf Jacqueline. Don’t Kill Your Baby. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2001.

5 thoughts on “Hospitals’ Stamp of Approval”

  1. I know. It was horribly cruel. Like today there are so many companies that are more worried about their profits than the well-being of others. Sad.

  2. Jennifer, thank you so much for doing this research. I think it is so important to understand HOW the shift away from breastfeeding happened (formula companies created it) — not that women just decided not to breastfeed over the years.

  3. That’s interesting, because I was separated from my mum for 4 days at birth (because she was very ill) but she was still expected to express milk for me. This was in a public hospital in Brisbane in 1962.

  4. I love this site and I am so happy that there is more to read now! I think these pictures are so telling and get a lot of encouragement and inspiration from them.

    Just quickly, I was confused by the 3rd paragraph and had to read it several times. I think you wanted to say: that mothers did noT instinctively know how to care for their own babies. Am I right? I just thought I’d let you know in case someone has the same problem as me.

    Thanks again for your research. I’m learning a lot!

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