Abstract

Taking present-day research into so-called new momism and intense mothering as a starting point, this article argues that the current mothering discourse, rather than articulating a new phenomenon, perpetuates a regulative discourse developed in the nineteenth century, in advice books written by medical doctors for pregnant women and new mothers. Both the Victorian and the present-day texts play on feelings of guilt and inadequacy in order to control the actions and emotions of mothers, although the threatened outcome differs: present-day mothers are warned that their children may become obese or develop neuropsychological disorders, whereas Victorian mothers are warned that their children might die.

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