January 12, 2009

The New Yorker: An Unhelpful History Of Elitist Breastfeeding Hangups

uma_dangerous_liaisons.jpg

In modern history, breastfeeding has been fetishized and demonized, considered a woman's ultimate patriotic duty, and a savage, animalistic practice unworthy of mothers of the civilized, fair races. In 18th century Paris, an estimated 90% of women used wet nurses to feed their children. The introduction of commercially produced baby formula in the late 19th century was coincidentally accompanied by a widespread drying up of American breasts. Then the popularization of the breast pump has effectively divorced breastfeeding women from their babies and supposedly contributes to the woeful state of maternity leave in the US.

That's what I got out of Jill Lepore's breastfeeding article in this week's New Yorker. While it was fascinating, I didn't find it particularly persuasive or actionable for improving mom-baby bonding.

Not a lot of dads in this breastfeeding history. Unless you count Carl Linnaeus, who apparently named mammals after his dutifully lactating wife. And all the men doing all the oppressing; they probably had womenfolk at home, too.

Maternity Dept. |
Baby Food | If breast is best, why are women bottling their milk?
[newyorker.com, thanks dt reader mpt]
rare clothed photo of international breastfeeding spokesmodel Uma Thurman in Dangerous Liaisons from some random Russian website.

4 Comments

I think that was the longest Uma drought yet...

You don't know how tough it was finding a photo of her from DL with her top on. You're welcome.

I don't, but now I plan to do plenty of Google searches in an attempt to find out!

just don't do them at work.

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