Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Latching On

I'm already eagerly anticipating Formula Fed America (and Babies, too), as I posted months ago. It just came to my attention that another film is on the way: Latching On.

It already looks more diverse than what we saw of Formula Fed America so far (though I'm still excited and hopeful about that). It's a short one, only 36 minutes total, but this could be an asset when it comes to appeal to the general public. I might be up for watching films on the subject that are the length of Wagner's Ring Cycle (or at least the Lord of the Rings trilogy), but I acknowledge not everyone is a weirdo like me.

The timing of finding this is uncanny - the internet is teeming with awesome on breastfeeding at the moment. The latest study about exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months saving approximately 900 infant lives per year in America (as well as saving 13 billion dollars) has gotten mass media attention. Some coverage has been better than others: the CNN story was pretty great. As was the CBC and CBS. The ABC story, however, featured a doctor doing some sadly familiar hedging and waffling about guilt and blaming the workplace for lack of breastfeeding success - and Elita of Blacktating called out that doctor at, like, superhero lightning speed for being a freakin' Nestle shill, of all the unethical things. HELL YEAH, Elita! Caught 'em red-handed. Best for Babes also does a great job critiquing ABC's financial breakdown.

And in another epic blogosphere-to-the-rescue moment, The Feminist Breeder wrote one of her signature glorious rants about the folly of the common defensive guilt response to any such report on the benefits of breastfeeding. I'm having a hard time selecting just one quote, there's so much win to choose from, but for starters:

Breastfeeding. Saves. Lives.

You know what else saves lives? Car seats. So, why aren’t people spitting mad at the NHTSA for saying that? Why aren’t they leaving thousands of comments on car seat articles saying “But I just couldn’t afford a car seat, why are you trying to make me feel guilty?!?!” Well, maybe it’s because our society will admit that car seats save lives, and we’re willing to give them out free at fire stations and hospitals if we have to because it is that important.

So why aren’t we doing the same for breastfeeding? Why won’t they hand out free breast pumps and visits to a lactation consultant when we know it would save lives and money? Well, I think the obvious answer is that there are breasts involved, and people just lose their minds when female anatomy comes up in conversation.

And then there's this:

The CDC shows that 3/4 of women are initiating breastfeeding in the hospital, but only 13.6% of women are still exclusively breastfeeding at 6 months. What this tells me is that somewhere along the way, they gave up on themselves, and the reason I hear most often is, “But, I tried! I just couldn’t make any milk!”

Here is the cold hard truth ladies: You have been lied to.

If only 13.6% of us could make enough milk, the human race would never have survived. And it’s not your fault. It’s the fault of this system that completely fails mothers and babies, and sabotages a mother’s good intentions. Somewhere along the line, some one told you that you couldn’t make milk, and you believed them because we’ve all grown up in a culture that tells women their bodies aren’t good enough for much of anything except being toys for men. Is it easy to make this milk? No, not always — but neither was bringing that baby into the world and your body did a fine job of that. Think about that. Think hard. Your body created an entire human being inside from nothing more than the joining of two single cells. Your body is a miracle worker. So what leads you to believe that, after creating a whole person with organs and tissue and a beating heart, that your body would call it quits when it came time to feeding this thing? The major problem here is that someone in your life probably put their own ignorance ahead of the short and long term health of you and your baby, and you believed them because women are used to feeling shamed.

I want to tattoo this on my forehead. Or at least paint it on my car, or do something to get it across to as many people as I can.

The red-emphasized part above (my emphasis because I think it's another particularly salient point) reminds me of a thought I had recently on the utter irony of rejecting or diminishing breastfeeding on the grounds of its possible interference with their attractiveness to men.

Let's leave aside the fact that breastfeeding has been proven several times (here's the most recent, as broken down by PhD in Parenting) to have z.e.r.o. effect on the appearance of breasts. Think about the nature of attraction, as in literally the very biology of it. There's no denying that we human mammals tend to find certain traits attractive, collectively, and the basis for much of that attraction when it comes to secondary sex characteristics has to do with seeking a fertile mate that will effectively bear and rear offspring, right?

In other words, from a purely biological standpoint, men are hardwired to find healthy-looking breasts attractive BECAUSE they will likely feed their offspring well. So the idea that breasts should be reserved for male pleasure instead of for feeding babies - the very purpose of their attractiveness to males IN THE FIRST PLACE - is not just tragically ironic, it's utterly preposterous.

Latch on to that.


  1. I would like to second the motion to make your car into a traveling breastfeeding mural. ;)

  2. Haa ha! I'll third that notion! And thanks for loving my post. I really had no idea how much it would blow up today. The response is insane. It just goes to show that people REALLY CARE about this issue! It's a great thing to see!

  3. I have a sticker on my rear window that I got from LLL that says 'Babies were born to breastfeed.' Let's get crackin' on this vehicle-based campaign! VIVA LA BREASTOLUCION!

  4. Hello. I just stumbled upon your blog and I think I'm in love. I am an aspiring doula and proud mama. I love all that is baby, vagina, breast, family, birth, midwifery, etc, etc, etc. Oh, and chocolate has a place in there too.
    If you ever visit my blog I would be tickled for you to read my birth story :)

  5. Wow, I can't believe it's taken almost a month to get to your birth story (I kept saving your comment as unread in my Reader to remind me!), but April was particularly crazy this year.

    Anyway, I'm so glad I got to read yous story! Thank you so much for sharing it. I commented more there.

    Thanks and welcome!