[Parentsgroup-list] anti-breastfeeding article in the AtlanticMonthly

Debrah Rud debrah_rud at student.hms.harvard.edu
Mon Mar 16 15:01:52 EDT 2009


This article helped me to realize how breastfeeding-biased I actually am and
hopefully will teach me to be more supportive of moms who don=B9t nurse. I
have one child that I nursed for 15 months total, 7 months exclusively, and
never fed him formula. My experience was that breastfeeding was cheap,
convenient, and blissful. So I suppose that it is hard for me to relate to
stories where breastfeeding is really difficult or unpleasant because that
was not my experience.

Perhaps we have gone overboard to the point that educated circles are biased
and unkind to mothers who don=B9t breastfeed, but I feel strongly that this=
 is
better than the previous culture where breastfeeding was taboo.  I think the
vehement support of breastfeeding and the enthusiastic advertisement of the
benefits of breastfeeding by pediatricians in the U.S. (overstated or not)
may have been necessary to overcome the reticence to breastfeed that existed
previously. Is it better to be shunned at the park for the bottle or the
breast? Perhaps we can come to some happy medium.

In any case, I think that while some moms might find that breastfeeding
makes their lives more difficult, there are many like me who might find that
it was a lovely experience that they will always treasure and that
breastfeeding in fact made life much much easier.  But I suppose much of
this was because I took a year off from graduate school and worked a part
time job at Isis Maternity where I was encouraged to take time to pump and
everyone understood what I was up to.  Maybe I was a successful and happy
breastfeeder (and somewhat biased toward this approach to this day) because
I was breastfed by my own mother, perhaps it was because I was surrounded by
breastfeeding advocates at Isis and followed Sears somewhat religiously,
maybe it was because I took time off and was with my son much of the time. I
sometimes look at moms who don=B9t nurse and think, =B3Why aren=B9t you doi=
ng what
is best for baby, and what is also cheaper and easier?=B2. But I need to
realize that while I look at a nursing mom and am a little jealous that she
still gets to nurse her child, other moms might shudder and have terrible
memories of nursing.

I think that this article was useful for me to read to ensure that I can see
both sides of the argument.

Debrah
G7(6), PhD Program in Virology (almost done!), Mom to Jackson, 4 years old


On 3/16/09 2:21 PM, "Candice Belanoff" <CBELANOF at hsph.harvard.edu> wrote:

> These are fantastic, important stories to hear, folks. Please keep 'em
> coming!!! Did anyone think that article was bunk? Did anyone think she sh=
ould
> have said even more?
>  =

> --candice, almost done, breastfeeding researcher
>  =

>  =

>  =

>  =

> Candice Belanoff, MPH
> Doctoral Candidate
> Department of Society, Human Development and Health
> Harvard School of Public Health
>  =

> =

> =

>>>> >>> <bagneris at fas.harvard.edu> 3/16/2009 1:41 PM >>>
> Another mommy who felt the article contained a lot of truths.  Read on if=
 you
> are so-inclined
> =

> Confession of a Breast-Feeding Failure:
> =

> My second child is now 5 months old.  After an already rough go with early
> breastfeeding and struggling to gain weight in the early weeks, at about =
five
> weeks, she refused to nurse period.  Since she refused the at-the-breast
> nursing supplementer, I diligently cup fed breast milk to her for weeks,
> knowing from all my pre-natal research that giving her a bottle before
> breastfeeding was firmly established would leave her hopelessly nipple
> confused.  I spent most of the early weeks of Z's life in the lactation
> consultant's office, both of us crying our eyes out.  Having faithfully r=
ead
> the Nursing Mother's Companion, the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, any art=
icle
> I
> could get my hands on, and taking TWO pre-natal breastfeeding classes, I =
just
> KNEW that I could do this.  It was hard work, but it was what my body was=
 made
> for (I mean my boobs were freaking huge 32H!!!).  I was determined to make
> this
> work.  But I just couldn't.
> =

> Once the lactation consultant finally concluded that my daughter was "a r=
eal
> toughie" and "quite a character with a real mind of her own" (heavens, I =
hope
> so!) and gave me the go-ahead to give her a bottle (her weight had dropped
> bigtime), I pumped breastmilk for her for 5 months, but  I couldn't balan=
ce
> being a good mom to my five year old and a non-evil partner to girlfriend=
 let
> alone trying to finish a dissertation with pumping 8-12 times a day.   And
> despite the name of of Medela's most popular pump, there is nothing "styl=
ish"
> about pumping; it's really hard work.  My daughter may have been getting =
those
> drops of "liquid gold" as my pediatrician called them, but everyone but h=
er
> was
> pretty miserable.  Finally, I decided I wanted to really enjoy my daughte=
r and
> my family.
> =

> On her five month birthday, I just decided to forgive us both for "failin=
g" to
> breastfeed.  I fully support breastfeeding--have proudly nursed in public,
> supported pro-breastfeeding legislation, etc.--and never thought this wou=
ld be
> me, never thought I would be one of those moms that other moms looked at =
and
> said, "She just didn't try hard enough."  As a feminist, I know intellect=
ually
> that women have more than enough crap to feel guilty about...and yet, I s=
till
> feel tremendously guilty about our (my) breastfeeding "failure" and am ve=
ry
> self-conscious every time I whip out my poor bottle-fed daugher's "artifi=
cial
> baby milk." I know that I'd happily nurse her until she wanted to stop if=
 I
> could get her back on the boob, but, you know, she never really did like a
> bottle either.  Turns out, all this time, she was really trying to say, "=
I'm
> hungry; just give me a freaking spoon!"  So we just bought one of those
> infusion pureers thing-y so we can make our own, organic, locally grown b=
aby
> food (said, of course, with a note of irony, but also true : ).
> =

> Mia,
> ABD, cloth-diapering, co-sleeping, baby-wearing vegan mom to Izzy (5) and=
 poor
> little bottle-fed Zora (5 months)
> =

> =

> =

> =

> Quoting Eunha Chang <eunha.chang at gmail.com>:
> =

>> > Dear All,
>> >
>> > Thanks Irene for the article. This is exactly what I wanted to hear fr=
om
>> > ANYONE for the last five years of raising my two kids ( I breastfed bo=
th)
>> > Despite all this euphoria about breastfeeding, I found many "cons" to =
it,
>> > but was wondering why no one mentions about them. After having exclusi=
vely
>> > breastfeeding two kids as a full-time student mom, I now advice other
>> > moms-to-be that formula is OK, and sometimes even better for some kids=
.  My
>> > younger one had a serious atopic dermatitis and food allergies, and
>> whatever
>> > I ate affected him through breast milk.  My diet was restricted, and I=
 had
>> > to always worry about anything that I unknowingly ate -- which was ano=
ther
>> > stress in addition to what I already had.
>> >
>> > In addition, in oriental medicine, they say breastfeeding is "extracti=
ng >>
the
>> > bone marrow of the mother." Despite the Western medicine's argument th=
at it
>> > does not affect mother's health, and even good for burning calories, my
>> > oriental doctor said I will be left with only "packaging" (with no con=
tent
>> > inside) after breastfeeding. Whenever I went to him for chronic fatigu=
e and
>> > illness, he advised me many times to change to formulas. But because I=
 was
>> > hoping my son's allergies would get better from exclusive breastfeedin=
g, I
>> > just couldn't stop.  My younger son is now 27 months old, and his alle=
rgies
>> > has not gotten better, if not worse.  In addition, I did not come back=
 to
>> my
>> > normal weight until I weaned them -- breastfeeding made my appetite
>> > crazy.
>> >
>> > Anyways, I would still choose breastfeeding over formula for many other
>> > reasons, but shorter in duration or with some sort of "compromise."  I=
 just
>> > think it would be fair to give mothers the complete picture of pros and
>> CONS
>> > of the breastfeeding, and have them choose, and no more stigma about t=
he
>> > formulas.
>> >
>> > Eun Ha CHANG
>> > Visiting Fellow
>> > Harvard Yenching Institute
>> > 2009/3/16 Irene Newton <irene.newton at gmail.com>
>> >
>>> > > Hi parents,
>>> > >
>>> > > I wonder what you'll make of this provocative article.  I feel like=
 I
>>> also
>>> > > had my issues with breastfeeding (especially the inequality it sets=
 up
in
>>> > > the parenting between mother and father) but I feel quite strongly =
that
it
>>> > > is the best option for my child.  The article below brings up a lot=
 of
>>> > > questions about breastfeeding and I wonder what the highly educated
>>> members
>>> > > of this listserve will make of it.
>>> > >
>>> > > http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200904/case-against-breastfeeding
>>> > >
>>> > > -Irene
>>> > >
>>> > > --
>>> > > Irene L.G. Newton
>>> > > Postdoctoral Fellow
>>> > > Tufts University - Microbiology Department
>>> > > Jaharis 424
>>> > > 136 Harrison Ave.
>>> > > Boston, MA 02111
>>> > >
>>> > > _______________________________________________
>>> > > Parentsgroup-list mailing list
>>> > > Parentsgroup-list at lists.hcs.harvard.edu
>>> > > http://lists.hcs.harvard.edu/mailman/listinfo/parentsgroup-list
>>> > >
>>> > >
>> >
>> >
>> > --
>> > Eun Ha Chang
>> > Visiting Fellow
>> > Harvard Yenching Institute
>> > http://www.harvard <http://www.harvard/> -yenching.org
>> > 617 999 6370
>> >
>> >
>> > "Enter to Grow in Wisdom"
>> > "Depart to Serve Better Thy Country and Thy Kind"
>> >                  ----Inscription on the outside and inside of the Dext=
er
>> > Gate at Harvard (1901)
>> >
> =

> =

> =

> =

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