This week’s release of The One Best Way? Breastfeeding History, Politics, and Policy in Canada, by Tasnim Nathoo and Aleck Ostry, is timely, as breastfeeding is back in the news again.
In Bismarck, ND, a woman was arrested and charged with child neglect for breastfeeding her daughter while drunk. And the Daily Mail reports that letters poured in by the hundreds when the magazine Mother and Baby asked, Is Britain breastfeeding friendly? The answer was apparently a resounding, “no!”, with 60% of women reporting that it is a stressful experience to breastfeed in public; more than half of them had been asked to leave while breastfeeding in a public place.
The One Best Way traces the history of breastfeeding policy and practice from the late nineteenth century to the present. Whereas women were once urged to breastfeed as a patriotic duty, more recently it has become a moral issue, with women who choose to bottle feed their infant feeling branded as a “bad mother.” In between there was the elevation of paediatricians and scientific ideas and the promotion of formula use as the healthier option. Nathoo and Ostry track all these trends and ideologies in this very interesting book.
Their conclusion? It behooves us all to “view individual breastfeeding decisions with respect and compassion.”