The aim of this article, part of a larger study (Thorley 2000), was to determine and examine the practices which surrounded the initiation of breastfeeding in Queensland maternity hospitals in the postwar period, 1945-1965. Although it was assumed that mothers would breastfeed, and sound advice was available on how to achieve a good latch, the often arbitary delay of the first breastfeed, and consistently restrictive practices surrounding the frequency and duration of the feeds, were not conducive to an optimal start for breastfeeding. Staff shortages compounded the situation. Mothers felt powerless and were commonly not informed about whether their babies were being complemented with pooled breastmilk or artificial infant milk in the central nursery, nor were they asked permission for these to be given to their babies. Pooled breastmilk from the postnatal wards was available throughout this period, though in the latter part of this period there appears to have been an increase in the use of artificial milks.