A long yet interesting piece on breastfeeding – not against it but fairly skeptical. I especially like this bit:
So I was left feeling trapped, like many women before me, in the middle-class mother’s prison of vague discontent: surly but too privileged for pity, breast-feeding with one hand while answering the cell phone with the other, and barking at my older kids to get their own organic, 100 percent juice—the modern, multitasking mother’s version of Friedan’s “problem that has no name.”
And in this prison I would have stayed, if not for a chance sighting. One day, while nursing my baby in my pediatrician’s office, I noticed a 2001 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association open to an article about breast-feeding: “Conclusions: There are inconsistent associations among breastfeeding, its duration, and the risk of being overweight in young children.” Inconsistent? There I was, sitting half-naked in public for the tenth time that day, the hundredth time that month, the millionth time in my life—and the associations were inconsistent? The seed was planted. That night, I did what any sleep-deprived, slightly paranoid mother of a newborn would do. I called my doctor friend for her password to an online medical library, and then sat up and read dozens of studies examining breast-feeding’s association with allergies, obesity, leukemia, mother-infant bonding, intelligence, and all the Dr. Sears highlights.
I believe each mom should make her own decisions based on what’s best for her and her family. What I don’t like, in this as in anything else aside from the obvious superiority of dark chocolate over the milk kind, is people who insist their views must be followed by all.
Oh, and this is pretty good, too:
The debate about breast-feeding takes place without any reference to its actual context in women’s lives. Breast-feeding exclusively is not like taking a prenatal vitamin. It is a serious time commitment that pretty much guarantees that you will not work in any meaningful way. Let’s say a baby feeds seven times a day and then a couple more times at night. That’s nine times for about a half hour each, which adds up to more than half of a working day, every day, for at least six months. This is why, when people say that breast-feeding is “free,” I want to hit them with a two-by-four. It’s only free if a woman’s time is worth nothing.
Let’s say a baby feeds seven times a day and then a couple more times at night. That’s nine times for about a half hour each, which adds up to more than half of a working day, every day, for at least six months.”
Someone told me once (pre-kids) that feeding and bathing and changing one baby’s diapers takes up more than 8 hours a day. That’s your full-time job, right there. I don’t wear a lot of “message” T-shirts, but one of my favourites says “every mother is a working mother.”
That’s also further evidence, if anybody needed it, that OctoMom is bananas.
Tanya says: Of course this woman’s frustrated with breastfeeding. She thinks she should be able to answer her cell phone whilst nursing.
I’m called on annually to serve as the official photographer at the Breastfeeding Challenge in my area. Being part of that circle made me aware of the amount of support and resources needed for breastfeeding to be something every woman can do, if she so wishes. (You’ll notice, if you look at 2008’s results, that Quebec, Canada is the place to breastfeed.) In my area, there are breastfeeding counselors, breastfeeding clinics, breastfeeding newsletters, breastfeeding support moms (mentors within the breastfeeding support group, of course)…. At no point did I ever get the impression that it’s supposed to be easy; that it isn’t a full-time commitment.
So if you don’t feel it’s a commitment you’re able to make, then don’t do it. There are endless other options. But build a case against breastfeeding? Puh-leeeze!
Véronique adds: Typing this comment while nursing. Given that healthy children can be brought up on formula, I don’t think that the decision to breastfeed should be held as a moral absolute. That being said, I am of the “human milk for human babies” type. It just seems to make sense in the big scheme of things, regardless of academic studies and expert opinions.
What troubles me in the type of opinion expressed in that column is that it seems to gloss over the fact that parenting is made of sacrifices. You can stop feeding if it makes you feel better. But thinking that you can (or should be able to) skirt self-sacrifice somehow is asking for a rude awakening.by