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Bottled Up: How the Way We Feed Babies Has Come to Define Motherhood, and Why It Shouldn’t

Suzanne Barston
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Pages: 224
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1ppwbm
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  • Book Info
    Bottled Up
    Book Description:

    As the subject of a popular web reality series, Suzanne Barston and her husband Steve became a romantic, ethereal model for new parenthood. Called "A Parent is Born," the program's tagline was "The journey to parenthood . . . from pregnancy to delivery and beyond." Barston valiantly surmounted the problems of pregnancy and delivery. It was the "beyond" that threw her for a loop when she found that, despite every effort, she couldn't breastfeed her son, Leo. This difficult encounter with nursing-combined with the overwhelming public attitude that breast is not only best, it is the yardstick by which parenting prowess is measured-drove Barston to explore the silenced, minority position that breastfeeding is not always the right choice for every mother and every child. Part memoir, part popular science, and part social commentary,Bottled Upprobes breastfeeding politics through the lens of Barston's own experiences as well as those of the women she has met through her popular blog,The Fearless Formula Feeder. Incorporating expert opinions, medical literature, and popular media into a pithy, often wry narrative, Barston offers a corrective to our infatuation with the breast. Impassioned, well-reasoned, and thoroughly researched,Bottled Upasks us to think with more nuance and compassion about whether breastfeeding should remain the holy grail of good parenthood.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95348-2
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-13)

    I’m watching an Internet series about pregnancy. While a new mom is being interviewed, her baby begins crying. She informs her husband (and the camera) that she’s going to “go make him a bottle.” A nervous glance passes over her face; it’s almost imperceptible, but I can see it. The guilt, the conflict, the defensiveness . . . it’s all there. And it hurts to watch.

    Other women viewing this show will catch the moment as well, subtle as it may be. Some will grimace, familiar with the shame of being a bottle-feeding mom. Others will judge, wondering why someone...

  5. ONE Preconceived Notions
    (pp. 14-41)

    After years of hitting the bottle, America has fallen in love with lactation. Breastfeeding rates are the highest they’ve been in two decades: by the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates, a whopping 75 percent of new mothers in the United States are nursing their babies when they leave the maternity ward.¹ The credit goes partly to the researchers whose studies have shown a myriad of benefits to human milk, and partly to activists who have fought admirably for better pumping rights and hospital policies, doggedly working to make breastfeeding the norm. But therealheroics...

  6. TWO Lactation Failures
    (pp. 42-69)

    There’s a startling disjunction between how breastfeeding is presented—as a natural, instinctual act that is seldom sullied by physical or emotional impediments—and the actual lived reality of most early breastfeeding experiences. This has created a breeding ground for serious problems, where lactation “failure” is mishandled, misdiagnosed, and misinterpreted. The true failure, however, may be on the part of well-meaning but dogmatic care providers who refuse to acknowledge that legitimate lactation problems can and do exist.

    Like many women, my initiation into breastfeeding was exceedingly technical, supervised, and regimented. During our time in the hospital, I was visited by...

  7. THREE Of Human Bonding
    (pp. 70-95)

    When Karen Kleiman began her clinical practice treating women with postpartum mood disorders, she was highly motivated to prevent nursing moms from falling through cracks in the system. A former breastfeeding counselor, she understood the need for advocacy and education on a visceral level, considering that she had been mistakenly instructed to stop breastfeeding her second child after a breast cancer scare and subsequent surgery.

    Shortly after giving a talk on postpartum adjustment issues to a local moms’ group, Kleiman, by then executive director of the Postpartum Stress Center and author of a number of books on postpartum depression (PPD),...

  8. FOUR The Dairy Queens
    (pp. 96-125)

    American mothers are stuck between a rock and a hard place—or, more accurately, a breast and a breast pump. In millennial America, most women are going back to work within a few months of giving birth;¹ in order to feed their children breast-milk exclusively for the recommended six months, some of that milk is not going to be straight from the tap. This has meant that breastfeeding has come to mean primarily breastpumpingfor a large group of mothers,² and breastfeeding rights have been superseded by the need for “lactation-friendly” workplaces that allow for adequate expression of milk. Feminist...

  9. FIVE Damn Lies and Statistics
    (pp. 126-152)

    Throughout all the arguing back and forth about the benefits of breastfeeding, we as a society are ignoring the real elephant in the room. Breastfeeding, except in specific circumstances,isa better choice. The real question ishow much better?We should be questioning if it’s better enough to justify the pressure we put on women to do it, even if they don’t want to or can’t; if it’s better enough to excuse poor science and a stupefying dismissal of relative risk.

    According to the AAP’s official statement on breastfeeding, the act of nursing an infant can reduce the risk...

  10. SIX Soothing the Savage Breast
    (pp. 153-172)

    I had only one friend who chose to formula feed from the beginning, without ever bringing her child to her breast. Erin’s husband had been deployed in Iraq when she gave birth to her first son, and she’d started out thinking that she would attempt to breastfeed, but “being a single working mom with a job that was less than breastfeeding friendly in nature was overwhelming” and Erin started thinking that it would be too much for her to handle. She worried that she would be depriving her son by not giving breastfeeding the old college try.

    Everything came to...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 173-184)
  12. REFERENCES AND FURTHER READING
    (pp. 185-212)