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Breast Milk, Baby Formula and the Top 10 Breastfeeding Controversies

breastfeeding controversies, time magazine

Obscene! Or is it?

Breastfeeding. There I go starting a controversy!

Of all the things that get parents and the people who watch them riled up, breastfeeding has to be one of the most enduring. The act is encouraged yet undermined, praised yet reviled, touted as physically healthy while scourged as emotionally problematic.

Even circumcision, the other white-hot, can’t-win decision parents have to make, peters out (ha! intentional …) by the time the baby gets his first tooth. But a baby with a bottle/suckling her mother? That’s irresponsible. Disgusting! A sure sign that Mom has caved in to the formula companies/boob Nazis.

Now, I’m not trying to start a milk-squirting match between us baby-feeders. I know the mere act of stirring Carnation Comfort Proteins with filtered water is a confession of mothering failure (and by “mothering,” I am indeed speaking exclusively of women-moms). But at least pointed fingers and shaking heads are aimed at the deep personal failings of the individual who has chosen to serve formula. When it comes to hating on breastfeeders, there’s always the underlying implication that you are a sick, needy woman who has lost her identity but not the baby fat. (And also calls to go feed the kid under a blanket or in the bathroom!)

Know what I mean?

TIME magazine has put together a list of the Top 10 breastfeeding controversies and nearly all of the controversies center around the issue of modesty. Here’s a list of the controversies and then I add a few below that. Mine aren’t as sexy (yes, I meant that too!) as Mark Zuckerberg trolling his behemoth X-ing out some photos, but bafflingly, not others.

  1. Sarah Palin Slams Michelle Obama
  2. Woman Kicked Off a Plane for Breast Feeding
  3. Facebook Accussed of Censoring Breast-Feeding Photos
  4. Breast-Feeding School-Age Kids
  5. The Realistic Breast-Feeding Baby Doll
  6. A Proformula Onesie?
  7. Salma Hayek Breast-Feeds an African Baby
  8. Redbook’s Breast-Feeding Cover
  9. Julie Bowen’s Revealing Photo
  10. The Angelina Jolie Breast-Feeding Statue

They left out a couple of others, such as the new IRS rule, which classifies breast pumps as medical equipment and allows some families to write them off (or, as Michele Bachmann thinks, the government buys every lactating woman a free awesome breast pump!)

They also left out a huge controversy from a couple of years ago when The Atlantic‘s Hanna Rosin asked whether studies really do show conclusively that breast is best in her article “The Case Against Breastfeeding.” Another great breastfeeding controversy was when Jill Lepore asked in the New Yorker whether setting up nursing rooms at corporate headquarters was really in the best interest of moms and babies.

And then, just the general controversy of … not wanting to breastfeed.

We’re at an interesting moment in parenting and women’s history, don’t you think? This is all going to look funny to our own kids, right? (At least the breastfed ones.)

What other breastfeeding controversies can you think of? Any personal controversies you’d like to share?

Photo: Alison Bean [via wikimedia commons]

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