New Books Network

B. L. Johnson and M. M. Quinlan

You’re Doing it Wrong!

Mothering, Media and Medical Expertise

Rutgers University Press 2019

New Books in CommunicationsNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in JournalismNew Books in MedicineNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Science & Technology June 19, 2020 Christina Gessler

New mothers face a barrage of confounding decisions during the life-cycle of early motherhood which includes… Should they change their diet or mindset to...

New mothers face a barrage of confounding decisions during the life-cycle of early motherhood which includes… Should they change their diet or mindset to conceive? Exercise while pregnant? Should they opt for a home birth or head for a hospital?

Whatever they “choose,” they will be sure to find plenty of medical expertise from health practitioners to social media “influencers” telling them that they’re making a series of mistakes. As intersectional feminists with two small children each, Bethany L. Johnson and Margaret M. Quinlan draw from their own experiences as well as stories from a range of caretakers throughout.

You’re Doing it Wrong! Mothering, Media and Medical Expertise (Rutgers University Press, 2019) investigates the storied history of mothering advice in the media, from the newspapers, magazines, doctors’ records and personal papers of the nineteenth-century to today’s websites, Facebook groups, and Instagram feeds.

Johnson and Quinlan find surprising parallels between today’s mothering experts and their Victorian counterparts, but they also explore how social media has placed unprecedented pressures on new mothers, even while it may function as social support for some.

They further examine the contentious construction of prenatal and baby care expertise itself, as individuals such as everyone from medical professionals to experienced moms have competed to have their expertise acknowledged in the public sphere.

Exploring potential health crises from infertility treatments to “better babies” milestones, You’re Doing it Wrong! provides a provocative look at historical and contemporary medical expertise during conception, pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, and infant care stages.

Bethany L. Johnson (MPhil, M.A.) is a doctoral student in the history of science, technology and the environment at the University of South Carolina and an associate member to the graduate faculty and research affiliate faculty in the department of communication studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Margaret M. Quinlan (PhD) is an associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies and core faculty in the interdisciplinary Health Psychology Ph.D. Program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.


Dr. Christina Gessler’s background is in anthropology, women’s history, and literature. She works as a historian, poet, and photographer. In seeking the extraordinary in the ordinary, Gessler writes the histories of largely unknown women, poems about small relatable moments, and takes many, many photos in nature.