'Mother to Mother': Mary Paton's Leadership in the Nursing Mothers' Association of Australia, 1964-1975

Karen Twigg and Jill Barnard


This chapter explores the motivations of and pivotal role played by Mary Paton, the official founder of the Nursing Mothers’ Association (now the Australian Breastfeeding Association), in the first eleven years of the association’s life, 1964–1975. At a time when breastfeeding rates were plummeting, Paton deliberately set out to reverse this trend. Gathering other women around her, and developing a volunteer training program that fostered an empathetic and non-directive style of leadership, Mary established a network of discussion groups that offered not just informed ‘mother-to-mother’ breastfeeding support to thousands of women, but social opportunities and skill development.


Nursing Mothers’ Association of Australia, Australian Breastfeeding Association, breastfeeding, Mary Paton

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