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Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Breastfeeding: Normal, Natural, Best

'Lactivists' Taking Their Cause, and Their Babies, to the Streets - New York Times: "'To many mothers, breast-feeding runs up against sexual attitudes toward the breast,' said Dr. Lawrence Gartner, who leads [The American Academy of Pediatrics's] research on breast-feeding. 'That reduces the prevalence of breast-feeding, which is a bad situation because duration of breast-feeding is an important factor in children's health.'"
I saw this article was one of the most emailed articles at the NYTimes, so I thought I would post here what I had to say in response to some particularly unfortunate commentary on a post at Cutting to the Chase.
The fear and loathing of most straight men to the natural feeding of children always leaves me cold. Of all the androcratic attitudes. There is nothing disgusting about it. It is typically done without anyone knowing it is going on. And really, we should be encouraging and supportive of this totally normal activity. In an effort to promote the formula industry and preserve the mono-functional mythology of the patriarchy, we have totally lost touch with the normality of this method of feeding our children. This attitude is only healthy if you work for Nestle Corp. Do you really want to risk your children? For worst-case scenarios, there is the possibility that there is something seriously wrong with the formula. And yes, there have been cases where formula feeding a child resulted in profound mental retardation. I met one of these unfortunates. May she rest in peace. But we don't have to go to worst-case scenarios. It is a medical fact that the formula industry has been unable to duplicate the benefits of the lactation of the mother. It is shown to build smarter children not to mention all the benefits derived from the shared immunity. Finally, this codswallop about the age of the child is just rot perpetuated by a society at odds with the natural world. It is not necessary to breastfeed until the child is three, but it is also hardly a problem. The benefits to the child are enormous and the problems are all social inventions. In developing societies, it is actually a really good idea as it protects the child from problems in the food or water supply and can reduce the amount of food it is necessary to provide the community. In short, the horror expressed here, and the discomfort expressed are an opportunity for the uncomfortable to examine their feelings and grow, not an opportunity to encourage mothers to abandon their children to the inadequacy of formula.

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