Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Case Against Breastfeeding

Hanna Rosin's recent article in The Atlantic, The Case Against Breastfeeding, has drawn a lot of attention, comments, and criticism. Read the original article, then visit the following sites for a host of responses to her article:
Have you come across any other interesting commentary on this article?


  1. Well, I thought Ms. Rosin didn't go far enough, so I wrote The Case Against Motherhood.

  2. phdinparenting did a round-up of blog responses here:

  3. Jane, quite well done.

    Just think--all along, it was breastfeeding alone that was keeping women from full equality. Imagine! All we need to do is get rid of nursing and embrace formula feeding and bottles and Nestle and Similac and voila! a whole host of social evils solved for good.

  4. and here is a dad's response:

  5. There are no words after reading that article. The saddest part was how she kept saying, that because it's her third child she's tired of breastfeeding. Well, I'm due with my third child in August, and I can say that is what I'm looking forward to the most. It's my favorite part of babyhood. I loved the response from Adventures in Crunchy Motherhood, it was spot on.

  6. Oops, I meant Adventures in Crunchy Parenting, sorry!

  7. I really enjoyed Cate's commentary at Nature's Child Blog.


  9. I think women should not be guilted into breast feeding. If they do not want to breast feed.

    Also for some it is really difficult and they may have some mental health issues too. I would rather they bottle feed, than get so stressed out that they jump off a bridge. For some women it just does not work out. That is ok. It is not the end of the world.

    I think Ms Rosin is entitled to her opinion. That is what it is an opinion.

    I have been in so many maternity rooms where mothers were crying their eyes out because their baby would not latch. Sometimes I had tried every trick in the book and it just was not working out.

    A good middle of the road is pumping. We used to poo poo this in the medical community but I have met many women who pumped for a good year and fed it to their babies. Yes. It is more work. But that is a decision the Mother has to make.

    The article certainly does not make me feel like I should not have breast fed my son. It is an opinion piece. However, I am surprised at how much press time it has gotten.

  10. my friend over at custom made milk has made a couple of posts about it.

  11. Well I read some of those rebuttals and I think the 'breastfeeding community' needs to examine why some of our reactions are so angry, kneejerk, and defensive.

    I for one gave the whole article a close read with an open mind.

    I didn't personally feel scandalized by the main thrust of her argument, but then again, I am not breastfeeding any more, so you might say I have no dog in this race. On the other hand, I do think the title sets an unnecessarily contentious tone, and she sure pushes all the right buttons! But whoa, did we take the bait.

    Which proves her point and from a broad perspective of contemporary cultural history of breastfeeding, it seems she didn't do too shabby a job.

    I also do respect her for owning her personal ambivalence. Ambivalence, that is one sentiment that is missing from much of the commentary.

  12. Thanks for the link love!

  13. Rixa,

    This article is so rediculous! I was wondering what you thought my dear.

    I did find this commentary interesting:

  14. It's easy to get discouraged as a mother who is really trying hard to be a mother and often finds herself judged. Being a mother enters in a whole new aspect of your character. There are lots of decisions to make and no one should be judged at all- unless you actually break a law. Women need each other, a friend, someone to completely accept them. And this is hard to come by when everyone has their own ideology about parenting. It's fun to have a passion and dive into it. But, we need to tame the fire around others and just seek to be a friend. Women would definitely be more inclined to listen to someone with a gentle voice rather than a yelling, nagging one.

  15. I really have never met a lactation consultant who yelled or nagged at a new mother. I am not really sure where this stereotype comes from, or why discussions about breastfeeding often evolve to ignore the proven health benefits and turn into bashing sessions for these evil hypothetical people who force moms to breastfeed by yelling at them or guilting them.

    I trained for two years at a birth center which treated breastfeeding as the norm and formula feeding feeding as a medical based intervention. We had a more than 90% success rate with breastfeeding initiation and continuation. Working moms, moms on public support, moms with mental problems, etc.

    They were incredibly supportive, with home visits and moms having unlimited phone and in clinic support for breastfeeding problems. Women who were having problems would come and stay all day in clinic sometimes, and would have help with every nursing session.

    I saw moms who were having problems who cried. I have personally wiped tears off of a mom's bare breast while helping her tape a Supplemental Nursing System tube to her skin. She was not sad because I yelled at her or that she felt guilt. She was sad because she was facing health obstacles in the success of her breastfeeding, and she was very grateful for our support.

    I have seen moms (just this week!) furious because nurses disregarded their wishes to breastfeed and fed their babies formula, even though there was no medical indication. I have seen many more health care practitioners pushy about feeding and recommending formula than the other way around. I have seen lactation consultants bend over backwards to support moms emotionally. I am sick of these roles being flipped in the discussion.

    OK, off my soapbox.


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