Sep 20 2013

Politics of Parenting: Bottled Up – How the Way We Feed Babies has come to Define Motherhood, and Why It Shouldn’t

As part of our on-going series on Parenting and Child Development, we turn to an issue which has become the focus of heated debate among new parents, particularly mothers – it is the debate over breastfeeding. Currently that debate is relegated to whether women have the right to do so in public rather than whether breastfeeding is the best thing in the world for mother and baby. And, very little focus is put on whether governments actually support breastfeeding through policies and practices rather than just words.

Breastfeeding has been claimed to reduce allergies, guard against obesity, prevent ear infections, increase IQ, and so much more. Mothers who have trouble breastfeeding often find themselves saddled with feelings of guilt if they cannot or choose not to breastfeed.

In her book Bottled Up: How The Way We Feed Babies has come to Define Motherhood, and Why It Shouldn’t, Suzanne Barston, a strong advocate of breastfeeding, provides mothers with information to make a legitimate choice about how to feed their babies.

NOTE FROM SONALI: I should say, this is very personal terrain for me, who, during my own child-bearing experiences went through greater trauma over the inability to breastfeed and the subsequent guilt due to the relentless “breast-is-best” dogma, than my actual labor and deliveries. I spoke with Suzanne Barston when her book came out last year, while I was pregnant with my second child.

GUEST: Suzanne Barston, journalist who blogs at Fearless Formula Feeder, and author of Bottled Up: How the Way We Feed Babies has come to Define Motherhood, and Why It Shouldn’t

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Politics of Parenting: Bottled Up – How the Way We Feed Babies has come to Define Motherhood, and Why It Shouldn’t”

  1. Jim Fujiion 21 Sep 2013 at 11:26 am

    For a show appearing on KPFK, this was disappointing–not because the message was wrong–but because it failed to properly frame the issue. To her credit, Susan Barston made attempts to hint at the preceding decades of massive Nestle-led efforts to displace breast feeding with their corporate formulas as well as the effects Nestle’s aggressive policies had on third world countries. But determined to forward what seems like a personal justification for her choice, Sonali each time deflected any line of inquiry along these lines, or to inform us about these corporate pressures–again, all because Sonali seemed determined to make this a missionary kind of statement. (You did similar questionable reporting in relation to vegetarianism in the past.) Not impressed.

  2. Mina Sparrowon 21 Sep 2013 at 10:33 pm

    This is a fantastic example of a conversation on a controversial topic that can be done in a respectful way. Well done ladies, well done.

  3. John S Greenon 22 Sep 2013 at 10:58 am

    Breast feeding is clearly beneficial and it should be done if possible. There are many more aspects of positive parenting for the benefit of the newborn that are not addressed as much, because they are hidden from plain view (pun intended). These involve philosophical and psychic developmental methods to raising children.

    This blog addresses them directly…

  4. momsknowbeston 24 Sep 2013 at 1:07 pm

    In response to Jim Fujii – did you even listen to the whole interview? If you did you would have realized that it was Sonali asking the questions, directing the guest to address questions about what formula companies have done. In fact the book, which I have read cover-to-cover, and is a really really good book, only addressed formula companies’ ill-deeds as a side note. Everyone knows what formula companies did in the past was evil! That’s not what the conversation was about. It was about the pressures that moms face from society about what is considered “best for the baby.” But moms know what’s best for their babies and them. Formula is not evil – it is a legitimate medically vetted option for moms who opt not to or cannot for a variety of reasons, breast feed. IMO the whole conversation was respectful, sensitive, and very well done – very important to have this conversation. Kudos to Uprising!

  5. Veronica Ramirezon 21 Oct 2013 at 9:28 am

    Please note, in California WIC does NOT give other children in the family more food as a result of the mother choosing to breastfeed.