The Lactivist's Dilemma [video]

I just saw this remarkable breastfeeding ad from Puerto Rico.  In it gorgeous Latina moms are shown lounging around with their babies and toddlers (and kids!), nursing and laughing and generally enjoying themselves. It’s a very sexy video. The positive message about breastfeeding focuses on pleasure, and pretty much nothing else.

It may be a tad romantic, as breastfeeding can also be tough, especially at the beginning, but the video shows a side to nursing we don’t often see: it can be a sensual experience for mothers. The idea that nursing can be a source of pleasure is still kind of taboo in the US.  We seem to be more much more comfortable talking about the health perks.

We hear a lot about breastfeeding “benefits” and “risks” with lots of references to the “evidence,” the science, the immunoglobulins. But rarely hear about how, by design, probably, it is enjoyable.

I’m reminded me of an Op Ed Michael Pollan wrote for the New York Times a few years back on America’s “national eating disorder:”

“… [Researchers] found that of … four populations surveyed (the U.S., France, Flemish Belgium and Japan), Americans associated food with health the most and pleasure the least. Asked what comes to mind upon hearing the phrase ‘chocolate cake,’ Americans were more apt to say ‘guilt,’ while the French said ‘celebration’; ‘heavy cream’ elicited ‘unhealthy’ from Americans, ‘whipped’ from the French.

The researchers found that Americans worry more about food and derive less pleasure from eating than people in any other nation they surveyed.

Compared with the French, we’re much more likely to choose foods for reasons of health, and yet the French, more apt to choose on the basis of pleasure, are the healthier (and thinner) people. …

Perhaps because we take a more ‘scientific’ (i.e., reductionist) view of food, Americans automatically assume there must be some chemical component that explains the difference between the French and American experiences: it’s something in the red wine, perhaps, or the olive oil that’s making them healthier. But how we eat, and even how we feel about eating, may in the end be just as important as what we eat…. “

Pretty interesting to c0nsider it in the context of breastfeeding.

What do you think? Could our obsession with the nutritional value of breast milk be another expression of our “national eating disorder”? Could we stand to focus more on pleasure?

Article Posted 4 years Ago
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