[Parentsgroup-list] anti-breastfeeding article in the Atlantic Monthly

Joy Geren joygeren at gmail.com
Mon Mar 16 16:16:21 EDT 2009

Excuse me "We know" should be "Most people know" but believe it or not there
are a whole lot of idiots who don't know the basics of safely feeding an
infant. Or people who are intelligent in other ways but think that
straight cow's milk is an acceptable substitute for human milk. Ever talked
to a state social worker? I'm the daughter of a learning disabled mechanic
who squeaked through high school so please don't start talking elitist. If
you note I said that the lactation consultant I paid $200 (out of my
stipend, my husband and I were both students) was NOT helpful. La Leche
League provides FREE help to everyone willing to pick up the phone or come
to a meeting.

I will not deny that it could be harder for women with fewer resources to
deal with nursing problems, but many women do not have major problems
nursing if they are encouraged to try it (I wasn't one of them but I have
met many). Also, my own newborns were both on MassHealth and I can say that
the free medical care we received was excellent. Now since you clearly don't
want me to attribute failure to seek medical treatment to class (income or
education) I don't see any problem here.
I spend my time caring for my two kids, my terminally ill mother, my
disabled father and trying to graduate. My only free time is spent at La
Leche League and I strongly believe that we should support mothers but I
certainly don't drag anyone to the meetings. And thank you for pointing out
that some mothers "know better" than to push babies to finish a bottle. I
prefer to think that it was a natural tendency and not that I was stupid in
trying to get the baby to finish that milk I worked so hard to pump. It is a
lot easier when I am nursing because I know nothing will be wasted.

On Mon, Mar 16, 2009 at 12:48 PM, <bagneris at fas.harvard.edu> wrote:

> Knowing that "We know" in the previous post was not possibly meant to sou=
> as
> elitist as it might have come off as via e-mail, I am still going to point
> out
> that "less educated people" are also less likely to have access to
> lactation
> consultants (or to use them) or other breastfeeding support (let alone to
> be
> able to afford anything in Isis Maternity!) or to adequate pediatric
> healthcare
> to insure newborn's growth in the important early weeks (the ped and/or
> l.c.
> weighed my kiddo at least once a week and usually more often because she
> wasn't
> gaining appropriately for the first two months) and that children of
> low-income
> women are much more likely to be low birth weight to begin with.  Also,
> being
> poor doesn't mean you are too stupid to know that a baby bottle should be
> clean
> (my grandmother who raised 5 kids in the projects still gives me what-for
> for
> not sterilizing the darn things).  And some bottle-feeding mothers know
> better
> than to push finish a bottle (besides, boob, bottle, or solid, you can't
> make
> my baby eat if she doesn't want to and I think that's great if not always
> convenient).  I re-iterate that I still STRONGLY support bfing, especially
> as
> an economical alternative and a great way to parent (of course you can
> still
> cuddle and even skin-to-skin with a bottle).  I still think all mothers,
> including and especially low-income ones, should be encouraged to
> breastfeed
> their babies, for a lot of women and their chidlren breastfeeding has just
> as
> many cons and pros.  I just don't see this issue as the place for drawing
> the
> line in the mommy-wars.
> > This is an interesting article but it feels a bit like a bitter blog.
> > Perhaps we just don=92t like being told how to raise our children, that=
> why
> > women resumed nursing 50 years ago against the suggestion of their
> doctors
> > and why we feel oppressed when we are told to nurse.
> >
> >
> >
> > For the record I have belonged to La Leche League for nearly 4 years,
> since
> > they supported me after the birth of my son who couldn=92t nurse worth
> beans.
> > My son had a problem with his latch, the lactation consultant at the
> > hospital told me he was doing fine, the lactation consultant I paid $200
> > said he was nursing well. When the pain was too bad and I had to pump t=
> > milk was pink from all the blood and I knew all was not fine. The La
> Leche
> > League leaders taught me that a mom knows her baby best. They called me
> to
> > see how I was doing, not just how much milk I was getting into my baby.
> I=92ll
> > spare you the details but after 11 very tough weeks I was able to stop
> > pumping and just nurse and that was when I felt like I finally got to
> know
> > my baby. La Leche League encourages a lot of things beside nursing, they
> > encourage parenting through breastfeeding. Nursing encourages us to spe=
> > some precious time with our babies and to think about, or even feel, wh=
> > they need. (La Leche League is not religiously affiliated and actually
> > disagrees with the modern =93Bible based parenting=94 method despite the
> > suggestions of the article. E-mail me if you want details.)
> >
> >
> >
> > I=92m in developmental psychology and after giving several hundred chil=
> IQ
> > tests I don=92t place much confidence in them except at the extremes. S=
o I
> > don=92t worry about whether breast milk raises IQ. (Let=92s face it our
> genetics
> > should ensure something regardless of what we feed the kids.) My person=
> > unscientific theory on the weight control issue is that breastfeeding
> > prevents us from controlling our children=92s food intake and allows th=
> to
> > learn to eat when they are hungry. My breastfed baby eats as often and =
> > much or as little as she wants. Despite knowing better I catch myself
> trying
> > to get my preschooler to finish his meal, or eat 4 rather than 6 or more
> > times a day. Of course you want your kid to finish their bottle, that
> > formula is expensive (or you worked darn hard to pump that milk) and you
> > don=92t want them to be hungry right away, but you are teaching them to=
> > based on convenience not hunger and this could be one source of weight
> > problems.
> >
> >
> >
> > So do I believe there are real benefits of nursing? Definitely! Here are
> a
> > few of my personal favorites-
> >
> >    1. It lowers my risk for breast cancer
> >    2. I don=92t have to get up in the middle of the night to get a bott=
> >    3. I am forced to sit down and snuggle frequently with my wonderful
> >    little one
> >    4. I can eat as much as I want
> >    5. I don=92t have to worry about the next dangerous toxin they find =
> >    bottles/formula containers or our water
> >    6. I have a really easy way to calm my toddler when he or she gets
> into
> >    that tired out of control state
> >    7. I don=92t have to plan ahead and take snacks/bottles/meals along =
> my
> >    baby, the food is always made and at temperature as needed
> >    8. I don=92t have to worry about pregnancy for a couple of years aft=
er I
> >    have a child (and yes, I realize that this is certainly not true for
> all
> >    nursing moms)
> >    9. I won=92t say that breastmilk diapers smell delicious but they su=
> beat
> >    formula/solid diapers
> >    10. I have to spend a lot of time with my baby. No one else can feed
> her
>  >    so I have a great excuse to be near even when a million other things
> > demand
> >    my attention
> >
> >
> >
> > I certainly have nothing against moms who end up formula feeding. In fa=
> I
> > often feel that I nurse for my own convenience. Pumping especially isn=
> fun
> > (I did that for 18 months with my first) and some women decide that
> nursing
> > is just not worth it in their situation and only they can look at their
> > families needs and make that decision. But at the same time I think that
> we
> > need to continue to promote nursing because as the article says those w=
> > are least likely to nurse now are those whose children could stand to
> > benefit from it the most. We know to properly mix formula, to carefully
> > clean bottles, to take care about what water we use for young infants,
> and
> > not to substitute something cheaper, like regular cow=92s milk for form=
> > but less educated people sometimes make these mistakes. And I firmly
> believe
> > that nursing can make parenting easier, a bonus for women with limited
> funds
> > or knowledge to sink into the cause.
> >
> >
> >
> > Kudos to all parents who survive grad school and parenting!
> >
> >
> >
> > Best,
> >
> > Joy  (mom to Toby, nursed for 2.5 years, and Della 10 months and 23lbs =
> > breastfed beauty cause she won=92t take solids yet)
> >
> > --
> > Joy Geren, M.A.
> > Doctoral Candidate
> > Laboratory for Developmental Studies
> > Department of Psychology
> > Harvard University
> >

-- =

Joy Geren, M.A.
Doctoral Candidate
Laboratory for Developmental Studies
Department of Psychology
Harvard University
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