Nursing Mothers' Association

The Nursing Mothers' Association of Australia (Australian Breastfeeding Association from 2001) was formed by six mothers in 1964, to promote and support breastfeeding. The Tasmanian branch began in 1971. Unusually for the Association, the impetus came from outside the capital, key initiators being Ann Smith, a geologist in Queenstown, and Marie Kingswell, a teacher in Smithton. Groups rapidly formed around the state and on Flinders and King Islands.

The Tasmanian branch had a peak membership of 600 around 1980, with up to 23 local groups in the early 1990s. Counsellors and members operate discussions, a helpline, and a breast pump hire service, undertake education, visit mothers in hospital, initiated the production of videos and a pamphlet on breastfeeding, and encouraged baby care rooms, and, despite some opposition, changes to anti-discrimination legislation which support breastfeeding in public. Partly at least as a result of the Association's work, the percentage of mothers breastfeeding rose sharply from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, then remained level.

Elisabeth Wilson