'Awful' '70s breastfeeding advice on diet and smoking slammed

A breastfeeding pamphlet from the 1970s has resurfaced online, and its advice to new mums about breast milk, smoking and post-partum weight loss has left those on social media entirely gobsmacked.

A Facebook user shared a photo of an excerpt from the questionable handout which they claim was given to their own mother by New Zealand’s Ministry of Health half a century ago.

Photo: Facebook.
Photo: Facebook.

“The advice on smoking my mum got from the New Zealand Ministry of Health in the 70s,” the user wrote in the caption.

In this particular section, breastfeeding mothers are instructed to avoid eating ‘highly seasoned foods’ lest the ‘strong flavours’ make their way into their milk and then their baby’s mouth.

“Your baby is the answer - the more the baby takes, the more milk is produced. It is largely a matter of demand and supply. Highly seasoned and flavoured foods should be avoided because strong flavourings and spices may pass into the milk,” the pamphlet read.


It was the advice on smoking, however, that really raised eyebrows.

“A nursing mother should not smoke while handling her baby in case ash drops in the baby’s eyes,” it stated.

Smoking mother holding infant
A breastfeeding pamphlet from the 1970s has resurfaced and is raising eyebrows on social media. Photo: Getty Images.

And then came a warning about ‘overeating’ after the infant is weaned coupled with a firm reminder for mums to drop the baby weight as soon as possible in order to keep hubby happy.

“You owe it to yourself and to your husband to restore your figure to normal after your baby is safely delivered. Overeating can become quite a problem once you have stopped breastfeeding,” it advised.

With 50 years worth of hindsight under our belts, the instructions might seem a tad outdated and unsafe at best or, as one, Facebook user wrote in the comments, just plain ‘awful’.

“Oh yeah. That’s... that’s awful in so many ways,” they said.

Photo: Facebook.
Photo: Facebook.

Other commenters joined in on ripping into the ‘ridiculous’ pamphlet — and they didn’t hold back.

“You owe it to your HUSBAND to restore your figure? B***h, I just gave him a baby. He owes me FOREVER,” one wrote in reference to the weight loss advice.

“How about no. I grew a whole human, I can eat anything I like,” another added.

One Facebook user was still recovering from the remarkable breastfeeding-while-smoking advice:

“Wow that smoking thing did NOT go where I expected,” they admitted.

Another piped up with their first-hand experience of adults puffing away around kids:

Photo: Facebook.
Photo: Facebook.
Photo: Facebook.
Photo: Facebook.
Photo: Facebook.
Photo: Facebook.

“I 100% remember being held as a small child while my grandma smoked. God bless the 90s,” they recalled.

“I’m sorry, is this advising against giving the baby a better taste experience that B E I G E?” wrote one commenter who was outraged by the ban on ‘flavoured foods’.

And while the person who shared the photo didn’t specify who authored the text, nor what it was titled, one user had their suspicions:

“This was 100% written by a MAN. A stoopid man,” they argued.

One commenter was slightly less scathing, writing, “Well that’s the most 70s thing I’ve ever read.”

Another clearly wanted to read more; “Holy shit, what else is in this book?” they asked.

Photo: Facebook.
Photo: Facebook.

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