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Nursing and motherhood constructions: implications for practice


Brennan, S, Nursing and motherhood constructions: implications for practice, Nursing Inquiry, 5, (1) pp. 11-17. ISSN 1320-7881 (1998) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1046/j.1440-1800.1998.510011.x


The present paper addresses the relationship between community based child health nursing services and social constructions of motherhood within Australia during the 1920s. Following the First World War, child health nursing services (then generally known as infant welfare or child welfare services) were established in all Australian states. The focus of the paper is mainly upon the development of the Tasmanian child health service, with some reference to similar services in other states. Within two decades of their establishment, most child-bearing women in Tasmania were in contact with child health services and this apparent success meant that, thereafter, women in Tasmania cared for their children under the 'expert' guidance of nurses. As the 1920s progressed, child health nurses increasingly promoted one particular, and ultimately extremely influential, construction of motherhood, 'scientific motherhood', based upon the philosophy of Dr Truby King. I argue that an understanding of how nursing services have historically reinforced and promoted ideological constructions of motherhood enhances the practice of present day nurses working with women. This argument is supported by reference to present day nursing practice in relation to postnatal depression.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Biomedical and Clinical Sciences
Research Group:Paediatrics
Research Field:Paediatrics not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Specific population health (excl. Indigenous health)
Objective Field:Neonatal and child health
UTAS Author:Brennan, S (Associate Professor Sheryl Brennan)
ID Code:13040
Year Published:1998
Deposited By:Health Sciences B
Deposited On:1998-08-01
Last Modified:2011-08-08

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