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The Case Against Breastfeeding

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Four women discuss the science and culture of breastfeeding.

Mom Hanna Rosin GOES OFF about the pressure on women to breastfeed in the April 2009 issue of The Atlantic.

"In certain overachieving circles, breastfeeding is no longer a choice -- it's a no-exceptions requirement, the ultimate badge of responsible parenting," she writes. "Yet the actual health benefits of breastfeeding are surprisingly thin, far thinner than most popular literature indicates. Is breastfeeding right for every family? Or is it this generation's vacuum cleaner -- an instrument of misery that mostly just keeps women down?"

Hanna continues: "Breastfeeding exclusively is not like taking a prenatal vitamin. It is a serious time commitment that pretty much guarantees that you will not work in any meaningful way. Let's say a baby feeds seven times a day and then a couple more times at night. That's nine times for about a half hour each, which adds up to more than half of a working day, every day, for at least six months. This is why, when people say that breastfeeding is 'free,' I want to hit them with a two-by-four. It's only free if a woman's time is worth nothing."

Hanna and three of her friends sit down to discuss breastfeeding, and most seem to feel it's just another thing to control women and bring them down:

Do you agree?

next: Couple Charged for Taping Sex Acts with Children
66 comments so far | Post a comment now
j. Karangis March 21, 2009, 7:10 AM

I am so surprised to see a group of women who do breastfeed and turn around speaking negative about it. i never felt down breastfeeding both of my girls. Granted the first weeks of breastfeeding is tough and painful but the benefits are so worth it. Besides after the first few weeks the painful nursing is forgotten. As mothers we endure hours of labor which is also painful if not labor a recovery from a c-section is painful. Either way to deliver a baby should not make us feel let down or hard on ourselves but the gift at the end of it all and that is the gift of a child. The same as breastfeeding, at the end of breastfeeding, you can return a gift back to this child.

Sarah H. May 6, 2009, 4:15 PM

“It’s only free if a woman’s time is worth nothing.” You have to be kidding me! This is the most ignorant comment in the whole article. So…a woman’s time is only “worth” something if shes using it to produce income? Being a mother is a worthless way to spend your time? Why would you have a child if you felt like this?

Zaxsiimc June 28, 2009, 12:38 PM

FN8Haj comment2 ,

Anna July 13, 2009, 2:35 AM

All those who are returning an insult apon the author should ask themselves where this hostility arose. Is it because those who chose not to breastfeed are continuously belittled by the medical and overtly righteous breastfeeding motherhood clan.
If you don’t want to breastfeed then don’t. To hell with what other people say, its your body.
What breastfeeding fans don’t understand is that we (those, including myself) who chose not to breastfeed, are already on edge with our decision in anticipation of the belligerent response. I’m due in 3 weeks and I’m fully prepared to throw whatever is closest to me at any nurse who even attempts to “high brow” my choice.
I wonder who is to blame for making us women who chose not to breastfeed so anxious. I’m sure my baby will thank them for my stressful attitude.

Allison April 25, 2010, 8:43 PM

She is a hypocrite. Writing an article called “The case against breastfeeding” when you still breastfeed. Is it really so terrible to hold on to ONE THING (my body/breast) when I give my child everything else? If my child needed a kidney transplant, of course I would give him my kidney! But is giving your child the breast when you simply HATE breastfeeding really best? I have a friend who almost starts to cry when her baby does because she is so afraid that he’ll want to eat. She will barely look at her kid and DOES NOT cuddle him AT ALL.

I have met women who breastfeed but are terrible mothers. Breastfeeding does not define you as a mother. My own mother hasn’t breastfed me but has done everything else she could for me.

I love my child more than anything and this might sound harsh but when he was just born, I DID already love him but I had to get to know him first. There is just too much pressure on new mothers to breastfeed. Heard about the woman who killed herself because she couldn’t breastfeed?

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