THE BREASTFEEDING CAFé
Reviewed by Roberta Waters
Finally, a book written by a woman with credentials, breastfeeding experience, and the guts to challenge the authorities! This book combines the breastfeeding stories of many women, from the very young, to those who gave birth before World War II. Woven into these first person perspectives are the true facts regarding breastfeeding, safety of place of birth, and the interconnectedness of childbearing and parenting/breastfeeding with being female.
Early in the book, Ms. Behrmann sets the tone. She writes, “The revolution in infant feeding that we saw in the United States centered around the fact that producers of infant formula, obstetricians and pediatricians, and educators and social commentators all convinced women that their own milk was inferior to anything science and technology could produce. Women learned to hold their bodies in self-contempt, while formula came to be viewed as a perfectly adequate, if not superior, substitute for breast milk.” She then goes on at appropriate moments, to address popularly held beliefs and publicly promoted falsehoods, by refuting them with science, studies and counter-opinions.
For example, in regard to the mainstream belief that home birth is unsafe, but hospitals provide safety, she directs readers to Henci Goer’s research and to organizations (MANA & ACNM) that promote breastfeeding among their membership.
TCM readers will find the stories include a broad array of women who breastfeed, from stay-at-home moms to those who work. Additionally, the experiences of some of the women are incredible, particularly the nearly impossible barriers that they needed to overcome in order to breastfeed or continue to breastfeed.
The book takes a feminist approach to breastfeeding and rightly so – who but females breastfeeds? With that approach, it is obvious to us all that as a group our right to control our bodies is very much under the domination of a male hierarchy – physician groups that dictate health policy or politicians who create the laws that promote those health policies. In spite the recent pro-breastfeeding legislation, pregnant-birthing-lactating women still have a long way to go for health care decision-making options on par with males. Ms. Behrmann aptly points out these female short-comings by giving the reader statistics, studies and other sources for empowerment.
I found the references inspiring for mothers and women to use to seek change. A hundred years ago, physicians and politicians worked together to shape women’s legal childbearing options and have succeeded in convincing nearly all American women to birth in the hospital, formula feed and circumcise. Educated women can begin to reclaim their lost womanly rights (and their babies’) by using the facts presented to begin a new revolution, a revolution of truth. One truth is that breast is best.
Joy, & Raspberry Leaves
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