Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Case Against Breastfeeding: the case of misinformation, misconceptions and self-orientation

Like most advocates of breastfeeding, I wasn’t taken back by Hanna Rosin’s article in the upcoming issue of The Atlantic Magazine. While I honor her right to express her opinion as set aside by the Constitution, along with being a journalist comes responsibility of accuracy in the media – Rosin is an Atlantic contributing editor. Rosin shirks responsible journalism.

Rosin seems extraordinarily bitter about her role as a breastfeeding mother. How do I come to this conclusion? She talks of breastfeeding as being slave-like, a duty and about being “stuck” at home and unreasonably furious. She belittles the studies that show the definite benefits of breastmilk and breastfeeding. She speaks of being impatient while nursing ~ “often I’m tapping my foot impatiently, waiting for him to finish. Even part time nursing is “a strain”. She portrays breastfeeding advocates and formula makers as “Crips” and “Bloods”.

Rosin continues “As an example, Wolf quotes What to Expect When You’re Expecting, from a section called the “Best-Odds Diet,” which I remember quite well: “Every bite counts. You’ve got only nine months of meals and snacks with which to give your baby the best possible start in life … Before you close your mouth on a forkful of food, consider, ‘Is this the best bite I can give my baby?’ If it will benefit your baby, chew away. If it’ll only benefit your sweet tooth or appease your appetite put your fork down.” To which any self-respecting pregnant woman should respond: “I am carrying 35 extra pounds and my ankles have swelled to the size of a life raft, and now I would like to eat some coconut-cream pie. So you know what you can do with this damned fork.””

Ms. Rosin should bottlefeed. There it is…right out there.

What child wants to nuzzle at a resentful, mean and angry mother’s breast?

Ms. Rosin fails to quote the current experts in breastfeeding or efficiently quote evidence based studies. She refused to do her homework, most certainly because she would feel more “pressure” to do what is right for her baby – a feeling she desperately wants to avoid.

Rosin’s article is an attempt by Atlantic Magazine to boost readership by trying to insight a media riot.
Sorry, Ms. Rosin, those of us who have been around birth, breastfeeding and parenting for a while are familiar with this type of ploy. We are aware of the websites (such as and group referrals such as La Leche League, and books that present all of your missing information. Just be aware of the damage, though, that you are doing for mothers who may be trying to decide whether to breastfeed or not. By demonstrating that responsible journalism for you is an oxymoron and not presenting each side accurately, you do more harm than good.

I just feel sad for your child(ren), Ms. Rosin.

1 comment:

mel817ski said...

Thank you Connie!!!! I was thinking the same thing!

Rosin's article and her appearance on the Today show deeply saddened me. The only thing I agree with Rosin about is that mothers need to stop judging each other and support each other. But the agreement stops there. Rosin's research is shoddy, incomplete, outdated, and inaccurate. If it was complete she would have written about a meta analysis published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (AHRQ) in 2007 entitled “Breastfeeding and Maternal and Infant Health Outcomes in Developed Countries,” which reviewed over 9,000 abstracts, 43 preliminary studies, 43 primary studies on maternal health outcomes, and 29 systematic reviews or meta-analyses that covered approximately 400 individual studies on breastfeeding and concluded with the following:

“A history of breastfeeding was associated with a reduction in the risk of acute otitis media, non-specific gastroenteritis, severe lower respiratory tract infections, atopic dermatitis, asthma (young children), obesity, type 1 and 2 diabetes, childhood leukemia, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and necrotizing enterocolitis [for the child]. For maternal outcomes, a history of lactation was associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, breast, and ovarian cancer…Early cessation of breastfeeding or not breastfeeding was associated with an increased risk of maternal postpartum depression.”

If you are a woman who decides breastfeeding is not a choice you want to make, then fine. Even pro-breastfeeding health care providers and educators will agree that there are plenty of reasons why a mother might have to feed her baby pumped milk or formula via bottle. But for Rosin to go on national television and say that "the scientific literature regarding the benefits of breastfeeding is thin" is just WRONG. She thinks this article is an "I've got your back" to all the mothers who choose not to or can’t breastfeed. But in reality it is just going to hurt the breastfeeding community by spreading a doctrine that tells women, their families, their bosses, and their legislature that "it's unnecessary to support the rights of breastfeeding mothers." Healthy living takes a time commitment. Being a parent takes time and sacrifice. If you are a mother who doesn't want to make the sacrifices necessary to breastfeed OR if situations beyond your control prevent you or your baby from breastfeeding OR if you just bond better with you baby by not breastfeeding , that's your choice and you’re right, you shouldn’t be “judged” for it. But to call breastfeeding an "instrument of misery that mostly just keeps women down" is sickening.