Milk, Money, and Madness: The Culture and Politics of Breastfeeding

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9780897894081: Milk, Money, and Madness: The Culture and Politics of Breastfeeding

I commend the authors of Milk, Money, and Madness for the considerable contribution they have made by voicing their opinions, contributing their knowledge, stimulating debate and challenging conventional wisdom. Dr. Richard Jolly, Acting Executive Director UNICEF

Breastfeeding is a beautiful process. It involves the participation of both mother and child and cannot be duplicated by a glass bottle and rubber nipple. So why does the United States have the lowest breastfeeding rate in the industrialized world? In Milk, Money and Madness, Baumslag and Michels examine the issue of breastfeeding, clearly drawing a line between fact and fiction. Among the main points addressed are: o How U.S. taxpayers unwittingly support and encourage bottle-feeding by spending over $500 million each year to provide 37% of the infants in the U.S. with free formula. o How a product created to help sick children and foundlings was transformed into a powerful international industry with revenues of $22 million a day. o How an intimate and self-affirming life experience that is responsible for the survival of our species has been reduced to just one feeding option. Milk, Money, and Madness provides parents and health professionals with the information they need to fully appreciate and advise about this critical life choice. By reviewing the history, culture, biology, and politics of breastfeeding, Milk, Money, and Madness gives the reader a more complete understanding of the uniqueness of breastfeeding.

The crucial decision between breastfeeding and formula feeding is increasingly complicated by misinformation and unfounded theories which cloud the actual facts. By all accounts, breastmilk is the most amazing life-sustaining fluid known to humanity. Many women who breastfeed characterize it as perhaps the most fulfilling life experience they will ever know. Scientific research supports the fact that breastfed babies are healthier, have lower infant mortality rates and fewer chronic illnesses throughout their lives than formula-fed babies. Similarly, women who breastfeed are significantly less likely to contract serious illnesses such as breast cancer. Alarmingly few people are aware of the unique benefits of breastfeeding and do not understand the dangers and risks of feeding an infant formula. In fact, the United States has the lowest breastfeeding rate in the industrialized world. Why has our society defied common sense and scientific data when breastfeeding has so many biological, emotional, environmental, and even financial advantages over laboratory blends?

Milk, Money, and Madness is a thought-provoking book that offers honest answers and straight facts about breastfeeding. This book is designed to provide women, men, health workers, doctors, nurses, and midwives with the knowledge they need to advise or decide about the most suitable means of nourishment for infants. Baumslag and Michels consider the effects of 50 years of clever marketing and advertising which have transformed this society into one where bottle feeding is the norm and infant formula is considered to be essential to women's liberation and the forming of a paternal-infant bond. They also examine attitudes toward breastfeeding in cultures all around the world as compared to the antipathy toward breastfeeding that pervades the United States. Milk, Money, and Madness cuts through the myths and paranoia to offer an enlightening, culturally significant look at one of the most fundamentally beautiful functions of the human experience.

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Book Description:

Breastfeeding vs. formula: could the choice we make put our children at risk?

From the Publisher:

We wrote this book because we are deeply committed to breastfeeding. Women have the right to breastfeed without interference, yet because of changing cultural attitudes and practices in this society, the information on breastfeeding is insufficient at best, inaccurate at worst.

The aim of this book is to bring alive the history, the culture, the biology, and the politics of breastfeeding so women can appreciate the contribution of breastfeeding to the survival of our species. Breastfeeding is a vital part of womanhood and mothering, and not a confining form of servitude.

This is a Why To book - not a How To book. A few generations ago, there would have been no need for a Why To treatise on breastfeeding. Nursing one's child was universal and socially acceptable. Women attended women at births ans shared with them their mothering folklore. With the medicalization of birth, this is no longer the case. Most American women do not breastfeed, and those who do typically abandon it within a matter of weeks. The women who do continue to breastfeed often do so in a cultural vacuum. In addition to living apart from family and community and having mothers who relied on bottle-feeding, many first-time mothers have never even seen a mother nursing. Because of this, breastfeeding is often accompanied by awkwardness, embarrassment, and anxiety.

There are, however, women who always breastfeed their children, nursing their newborns moments after the birth, then continuing to nurse for years. And while the number is statistically small, these women will not hesitate to tell you that breastfeeding is, by far, one of the most powerful, self-affirming, satisfying experiences of their life. To know that you are providing your child with a miracle food and medicine, while at the same time achieving an unmatched bond and sense of closeness, is a unique experience.

Yet, so often the subject of breastfeeding is presented to pregnant women as little more than one feeding option, only marginally different from formula-feeding, and strictly a matter of personal choice. This is largely due to the indolence and ignorance of health workers. But breastfeeding is not similar to formula-feeding. True, they are the only two substances capable of sustaining a newborn until s/he is old enough to eat solid foods. But that is where the similarity ends. Medically, nutritionally, immunologically, and emotionally, breastmilk and infant formula - breastfeeding and bottlefeeding - are entirely different and unrelated.

Everyone who studies breastmilk must come away convinced that this is a most amazing fluid. It is a substance as life sustaining and as inimitable as blood. This book is about choices and rights, because the lack of accurate information about breastfeeding makes it hard for women to understand how their right to breastfeed is manipulated by those who profit when they choose not to.

An appreciation of breastfeeding leads to an appreciation of the breast itself, a gland composed largely of fatty tissue. Unfortunately, too often it is seen as an object of sexual desire rather than as a fountain of utilitarian magnificence. The lack of appreciation for the breast reflects a lack of appreciation of the female as a person. When the fluid responsible for sustaining human life is seen as essentially identical to a canned powder produced in a factory, it is easy to see how the appreciation of the breast (and with it, the female body) has been lost. This book is also about reclaiming that appreciation.

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