Sunday, March 15, 2009

Breastfeeding vs. The BlackBerry

Check out "The Case Against Breastfeeding," by Hanna Rosin, in this month's Atlantic.

I read the article as I was breastfeeding my 15-month-old, trying to put him to bed at night. It was the first moment, after a full day at work, that I could relax, yet I was getting worked up. Rosin may be right about the slim evidence about breast feeding's benefits. But having studied the social and scientific approaches to childbirth around the world over the last million or so years, I know that evidence doesn't matter much. The real driver behind the decisions women make regarding pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period have more to do with fashion and zeitgeist. Right now, our culture says breast is best. Just ask Angelina Jolie. However, Rosin's point about breast feeding being a tool to keep women down in the way that Hoover vacuums did in the 1950s? Absurd. My BlackBerry is a far worse offender. It is a cynical and exhausted woman who thinks of breastfeeding as another thing on her to-do list. Yet we've all been there. Especially those of us with more than one child. But the real issue is not breastfeeding; it's everything else: The laundry, grocery shopping, mortgage, preschool tuition, and clients who don't care how many times a baby woke you up the night before. Instead of backbiting at the playground mommy circle over who is formula feeding, wouldn't it be more productive to fight the system over the fact that women are paid less than men for the same work? Or directing that energy toward fighting for paid maternity leave -- or even an unpaid leave of any substantial amount of time -- for all women of America?