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From Here to MaternityBecoming a Mother$
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Ann Oakley

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781447349341

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447349341.001.0001

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From Here to Maternity

Ann Oakley

Policy Press

This chapter examines a major theme in the early weeks of motherhood — feeding. Indeed, for months the mother's concern for the baby tends to be focused on what, how much, and how often it eats. A baby that is feeding and growing ‘well’ is a prize for the mother's efforts — a tangible token of her love and work. Conversely, a baby who gains weight more slowly than it ‘should’, and who perhaps cries a lot and seems unsatisfied, is a sign of maternal failure. Of course such an attitude is fanned by the professional advisers of baby who take it as axiomatic that the baby's growth and happiness must depend on a mother's care. A new mother listens to these advisers, but she also listens to those who have reared babies without the benefits of professional training: mothers, mothers-in-law, sisters, and friends. And she listens to her baby, who may have ideas of its own. The chapter shows that what goes into the mouths of babies is a mix of all these ingredients, a compromise between the different messages.

Keywords:   feeding, maternal failure, infant growth, happiness, mother's care, babies, motherhood

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