RE: The “Case” Against Breastfeeding

Did you catch the piece by Hanna Rosin? It’s in the Atlantic right now, April 2009 issue. I, like many others who read the “Atlantic”, find it an unfortunate bit; contrived; one-sided, with questionable research. And just plain sad. Apparently Hanna Rosin felt like a parasite for intimating aloud that she was so, so over breastfeeding. Who made her feel this way (besides herself)? Other mommies, she claims, breastfeeding-nazi mommies she met in a park.

As the baby books tell you, including La Leche League’s The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and Dr. Sears (whom Ms. Rosin pretty much villifies), breastfeeding is not for all moms. Coming on the mommy-scene 16 months ago, it was my impression and still is that in the PC world of mommies and breastfeeding formula has not been a dirty word for some time. Procuring the best system for mother and child is the primary concern championed in today’s reading material, whether a book is about breastfeeding or post-partum depression or bottles or pacifiers or thumbsucking or soy milk. Get what you need! the books say, Oprah’s experts, even Tyra’s silly little show agrees, and the canny mommy-blogs, too. But the “get what you need” message didn’t fit in with Hanna Rosin’s (in part) “I-am-a-victim-of-breastfeeding-nazis” agenda. Instead of “get what you need” she makes La Leche League and Dr. Sears responsible for creating damaging breastfeeding hype and for making not breastfeeding your babe a societal taboo.

I wish Hanna Rosin had mentioned how lucky she is to be able to breastfeed at all, unemcumbered by physical setbacks, or cultural mores. She describes the lengths a friend of hers goes to in order to breastfeed, snarling sarcastically that her friend looks nothing like a romantic portrait of Eve-With-Babe because of the “tubes and suctions and a giant deconstructed bra” her friend must wear. Hanna Rosin is lucky if that trying-hard, giving-breastfeeding-a-go-despite-the-hurdles mom is still her friend. Breastfeeding can be an enormous challenge for mother and child, especially in the beginning and even if there are no physical complications involved. But if the bond created through feeding has to come via tubes and suctions or a bottle’s nipple and formula, right on. Either way, the baby Will Be Fed—and even if Hanna Rosin switches from breasts to bottles, unless she has a nanny, or unless daddy plays a part, or unless she throws the job to her other children, Hanna Rosin will be the one feeding her baby, something she obviously resents having to do all by herself.

Hanna Rosin’s biggest enemy in her Atlantic piece is herself, her inability to take a stance on what is best for her personal situation. Instead, she blames breastfeeding-nazis for her discontent and anyone, really, who thinks breastfeeding a baby is a good thing, those hype-gobbling idiots. Hanna Rosin was interested in creating an article that would cause a ruckus. Blaming Dr. Sears for “too many years of conditioning”, presenting the reader with “research” gathered for the piece via a “friend” with a password to an undisclosed medical library, likening breastfeeding to prison—if breastfeeding is making her so unhappy and resentful, Hanna Rosin would be doing her family and readers a favor by practicing an alternative, especially if such a move would change her sour mood.

Thanks, Atlantic for publishing a (whiny) gripe masquerading as hard-core reading material. In closing, I give you the photo below of the World’s Biggest Breastfed Baby.
Big Breastfed Baby!
UPDATE: see this response
Both links have excellent responses and comments and are far more eloquent than little old pissed off pro-breastfeeding-although-formula-is-not-a-dirty-word me.

3 Responses to “RE: The “Case” Against Breastfeeding”

  1. PB says:

    Well, PB, so you decided to comment! I’m both impressed and distressed by your bravado. Bravada? F*** it, I don’t know. Too tired to think.

  2. PB says:

    PB–I meant, comment on Hannah Rosin’s ghastly article, not “so you decided to comment” on yourself. Gah! Where’s the Nyquil? Oh. Can’t have any. Breastfeeding.

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