Saturday, January 17, 2009

If Breast is Best...

...Why are women bottling their milk?

This is a great article from the New Yorker. I highly recommend reading it.

It's something you never think about. It actually condemns pumping! The author, Jill Lepore, gives a great history on the evolution of how women feed their babies. We've gone from poor women eating dark bread and nursing while rich women eat white bread and feed formula - and now it's the opposite!

The point of her article is that pumping and feeding breast milk from a bottle is NOT the same as breastfeeding. Many of the benefits of nursing are not available with bottle feeding, including the closeness, bonding, and love a baby feels while nursing.

She condemns American society by saying that instead of making it easier for women to physically nurse their babies, its actually making it harder by promoting pumping. Women only legally have 12 week of maternity leave but it is recommended to breastfeed for a year. Instead of bringing the baby to the mother or allowing the mother to stay home longer with her baby, the laws are promoting pumping stations in the workplace. In fact one pumping room has a sign that says "This room is not intended for mothers who need a space to nurse their babies."
Are we no longer nursing mothers but milk pumps?


  1. Thanks for posting this. It's a really good article- well worth the time it takes to read it. I am really thankful that I get to be home with my kids- so I have never had to pump to feed them. I recently started cereal for my 7 month old son. When I told the doctor that I hadn't made the time or effort to pump milk to mix with the cereal, he sensibly told me- "Just mix it with formula. Pumping milk to mix with cereal is too much like work." It was so funny and sensible, but I really had never thought of it before.

    I think that every issue in the culture of mothering can so easily be taken to these ridiculous extremes. Every woman has to figure out what works best for her and her baby- and ideally women should be given the information and freedom to make the best individual decisions.

  2. Thanks for the comment Susan. My baby's nurse practitioner said to mix his cereal with pear juice - it helps with constipation! It's hard enough pumping enough for him to eat every day let alone for cereal also!