Breast feeding, milk pumps

The New Yorker has an interesting piece on breast feeding and the politics of breast pumps.  There’s a lot of data about the history and evolution of recent breast feeding practices, particularly in an industrialized economy.   The author’s concern:  what  can look like the liberation of women may be the imposition of masculinist work standards.

 Still, the latest electronic pumps even imitate suckling patterns!

(Thanks to Calypso for the info.)

4 thoughts on “Breast feeding, milk pumps

  1. In her New Yorker article Jill Lepore brings to light a number of issues that concern breastfeeding mothers — restrictions on bringing breast milk on an airplane, the impact of a mother’s drinking on her milk, providing milk for other women’s babies, and — most important — breastfeeding for women who work outside the home. I discuss all of these in my book, THE COMPLETE BOOK OF BREASTFEEDING (4th edition to be published fall 2009), and I’m surprised that Lepore seems to denigrate the use of breast pumps. These pumps have made it possible for women to give their babies the best start in life, while also pursuing their own careers — or just putting bread (or baby cereal) on the table. They have also enabled very small preterm babies — like the just born octuplets (!) — get optimal nutrition. Yes, working women should get longer maternity leaves, and yes, nursing is more emotionally gratifying than pumping. But the pumps aren’t the villains in this story — nor are the women who use them.

  2. i don’t think the author was trying to villainise pumpers. likewise i don’t think she has a problem with pumps themselves. her claim, as i read it, is that pump-at-work advocates are taking advantage of an ambiguity (in the word ‘breastfeed’: it can mean either ‘feed breastmilk’ or ‘feed from the breast’) in order to look like the good guys while denying women the right to adequate maternity/parental leave: if you focus all of your talk on whether or not the workplace has adequate facilities for pumping, you avoid having to answer the question ‘shouldn’t we make it the case that these breast-feeding mothers don’t *have* to be at work so soon?’

  3. i guess i would personally say that breast pump helps a lot these days. its more convinient and there wont be the need to breastfeed all the time as the milk is already collected.

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