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What Are Your Thoughts on This Anti-Breastfeeding Article in The Atlantic

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The April issue of The Atlantic has a piece titled, “The Case Against Breastfeeding.” Here’s a quote:
In certain overachieving circles, breast-feeding is no longer a choice—it’s a no-exceptions requirement, the ultimate badge of responsible parenting. Yet the actual health benefits of breast-feeding are surprisingly thin, far thinner than most popular literature indicates. Is breast-feeding right for every family? Or is it this generation’s vacuum cleaner—an instrument of misery that mostly just keeps women down?
And another quote:
In Betty Friedan’s day, feminists felt shackled to domesticity by the unreasonably high bar for housework, the endless dusting and shopping and pushing the Hoover around—a vacuum cleaner being the obligatory prop for the “happy housewife heroine,” as Friedan sardonically called her. When I looked at the picture on the cover of Sears’s Breastfeeding Book—a lady lying down, gently smiling at her baby and still in her robe, although the sun is well up—the scales fell from my eyes: it was not the vacuum that was keeping me and my 21st-century sisters down, but another sucking sound.
So here’s my two cents… we’re truly fortunate, in this country, that women have the choice whether to breastfeed or formula feed. We have access to clean water to make formula. We can sterilize bottles. Choosing formula isn’t a choice between life and death as it can often be in developing countries. (For that reason, most likely, the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until at least the age of two).
So I think this is an opinion piece masquerading as reporting. The author, Hanna Rosin, misses an essential point… We’re mammals. Mammals breastfeed. It’s how we survive. Formula is an invention. And if there is absolutely no empirical advantage to breast milk over formula, as she suggests, then why are we here? Why are we even having this discussion?
What do you think?

15 Responses to “What Are Your Thoughts on This Anti-Breastfeeding Article in The Atlantic”

I agree. She is completely missing the point. This is def. an opinion piece.

Reading this made me cringe.
I have to agree that she misses the essentail point re. us being mammals, and that’s what we, as mammals do – BREASTFEED.
It saddens me to think that there are just too many women in this world who think they can do it all 100% all the time. If you choose to mother, do it right.

It kind of makes me sick.
To equate something our bodies were built to do with servitude, well what’s next? Outsourcing our pregnancies to machines to we can be free?
At what point do we decide that being female is completely divorced from bearing and/or nurturing children at all? Then are we men?
I’m really not on this chick’s wave length and I’m rather annoyed at her pejorative statements.

A couple of things about the article made me mad. The insinuation that you can’t be a feminist and breastfeed is just ridiculous. Also, she basically says as long as you are rich, white and educated (like her) who cares if you don’t breastfeed. Um, hello, the majority of the world is not like you! And she is saying that there is no advantage to breast milk…yet she herself chose to breastfeed her first 2 kids before she had this “revelation” and then chose to nurse the 3rd. So who is she kidding?

I agree completely! I definitely think it is the author’s opinion more than anything else….I also wonder if any of those studies were funded by formula manufacturers?

Well, on some things I would agree with her. Particularly about the problems with research. I think the media is partly to blame. They grab onto anything that would be a headline, and report it without reporting on the drawbacks of that particular article. They are now sensationalizing health. But I must disagree with Mrs. Rosin’s limited view of feminism. having minored in Gender Studies in college, I know that there are more than one type of feminism, one of which views the genders as distinct, separate, but fundamentally equal. We are special in our own way, because of our differences. I think that anyone who tries to make men and women the same on every level is doing a disservice to women and men. Men can’t breastfeed, but that doesn’t make better or worse because of it. So the women’s responsibility if feeding the child, what about everything else the dad/partner can do? Cleaning, bathing, playing, other housework? EQUAL isn’t always 50/50 but it means FAIR. Overall, I agree, great editorial. Not unbiased journalism.

It is too bad that a respectible magazine like Atlantic Monthly would print a poorly researched article like this. But imagine if fifty years ago, someone (such as one of the La Leche League founders) had written an article entitled “The Case against Bottle Feeding.” She well might have viewed other mothers as judgmental and negative. And she, like other breastfeeding mothers, would have been seemed counter-cultural, far out of the mainstream at a time when formula-feeding was the norm. So here we are half a century later. An article like this is a backlash. It’s one more piece of evidence that breastfeeding has become typical, normal, & mainstream–which is just what it should be!

I think this article is great. As a woman who found breastfeeding terribly difficult with a dehydrated baby, I’m grateful I had the option of formula feeding my baby. Finally someone is willing to write about the pressure us formula feeding moms are under. There are a lot of advantages to bottle feeding (like the mother can get some sleep in the first few weeks). It’s taboo to say so, but it works better for a lot of women. Why be so judgmental of other people’s choices?

I think it is interesting that she is SO Western focused….
She doesn’t even realize she lives in a way that most of the world will never live. Neither did the doc they have on the Today Show. I so wish they had you on at the same time!
But, the other issue besides clean water is that clean water doesn’t protect babies from the fact that formula is a manufactured product. It can have minerals and nutrients left out or too much put in or MELAMINE – everyone remember that? And our food supply is not above being tainted. What happens then to the breastfeeding has no clear advantage over formula argument? How about that I have never had to recall my own milk?
Micky Jones, BS, CLE, CLD, HCHI, IBCLC

I didn’t appreciate Ms. Rosin’s acid comments about being at home with children. I wonder when we women will learn to value our work inside the home, and stop equating raising kids with servitude and misery. I think this attitude is at least as undermining as turning up our noses at each others’ choices, which I don’t care for either. We all deserve respect and support for the choices we’re lucky enough to make. But blaming breastfeeding for putting women in a lowly place is an incredibly simplistic, insulting, and unfounded argument.

This article is one of the most incomplete, petty, and biased pieces of writing I have ever come across. Did anyone notice anything missing from the article? There is not one mention of the benefit to the mothers! Lactation triggers the release of the hormone oxytocin, which causes the uterus to shrink back to pre-pregnancy size. It dramatically reduces the risks of four different cancers, as well as diabetes. It burns 500 calories a day, helping the mother shed pounds and get healthy quickly.
Did anyone notice anything else missing? How about the unbelievable inconvenience of, say, leaving the house when you bottle feed? The arsenal of equipment required; the begging at the kitchens of restaurants to heat up milk in their microwaves? The breastfeeding women need nothing but themselves — milk is already at body temperature, anytime, anywhere.
Finally, there is no mention of the fact that a father CAN get up in the middle of the night and feed the baby — with milk the mother has pumped! Breast milk can be refrigerated for two weeks, and frozen for six months. One friend of mine simply slept with her baby in the bed; her daughter nursed from her, as needed, while she slept.

La Leche League is not a Christian association! In fact, they refuse to associate with any other cause; has this woman done any research at all, or is she just making things up?

I hope someone will follow up with more research. The scientific information seems to have largely been ignored by the public, and there are great pressures to breastfeed, sometimes hurting the family. If there is truly not much difference, we all should know that so that we can make clearer choices.

Wow! It’s a shame that this article was ever published. It’s based on opinions of one person and it’s discouraging. I like how she says that she can’t tell which child in her daughter’s class who weren’t breastfed. I bet if she waits about 10-15 more years she will be able to. They will be the ones with a plethora of health issues.

I was relieved to finally find an article sensitive to the point of view of those of us who tried breastfeeding only to “fail”. Before my son was born I was adamant about breastfeeding, and could only conclude that women who didn’t were selfish cows. Boy, did I get my comeuppance. After an emergency C-section and six weeks of pure misery, I made the agonizing decision to switch to formula. What a change! I wasn’t tied to a pump 20 hours a day. And most importantly finally able to bond with my child. Four years later, I have a happy, healthy, ahead-of-cognitive-benchmarks child, thank you very much, and deeply resent being unfairly labeled a “bad mother”. Incidentally, I was a breastfed infant and suffer from asthma, one of the conditions breastfeeding was thought to prevent.

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