Monday, July 16, 2012

Breast Is Best

When, in the post-WW2 period, public health people questioned the alarming drop in the number of newborns who were being breastfed (while still in the hospital, where such things could be recorded — just less than 50% of new mothers did so), they found a correlation between “rooming in” and “not rooming in.” Rooming in meant that the infant remained in the room with its mother. Rooming out meant being shipped off to the nursery — you know the kind, where rows and rows of swaddled babies are looked at through glass by haggard-looking, smoking fathers, trying to figure out which one’s his.

The only possible response to this is: DUH.

Where is the incentive to nurse when your baby isn’t there? If you don’t start, you can’t continue. This is also the era in which SCIENCE was king, as evidenced by the concept and language of this chapter on sterilization. Note the large role the physician plays in determining what should be a no-brainer. Milk from the breast needs no sterilization. Yet this was the era in which women were venturing out into the workplace, and at the very least, were expected to wear extremely tailored clothing (like the lady in the picture), which doesn’t realistically allow for a figure thickened by baby weight or milk-heavy boobs.

This chapter is disingenuous. It begins with the rather accusatory question “What is more important than your baby?” but then treats the baby as an object. Even childbirth was seen as being unpleasantly physical an experience to share with your baby, something that had to be erased from your memory even while it was happening, with twilight sleep. You went into the hospital pregnant; you woke up in bed not pregnant. With your child nowhere to be seen.

Click to enlarge to read the whole thing

It is no accident that the milk substitute fed to infants is called formula. A formula is a solution, not a food.

Pressure Cookery For Every Meal, Ruth Berolzheimer, Culinary Arts Institute, 1949
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