|Official breastfeeding support has never been higher, yet only 14 percent of women exclusively breastfeed at six months, a far cry from the (US)national goal of 50 percent. Why such a discrepancy?
And why does breastfeeding remain so controversial? Everything from the brouhaha surrounding breastfeeding and co-sleeping, to the pros and cons of attachment parenting, to the scandalous way publicly nursing mothers are treated, to the question of when is a child too old to nurse, myths and misinformation abound. Yet mothers struggle with these issues every day.
In The Breastfeeding Café: Mothers Share the Joys, Challenges & Secrets of Nursing, sociologist and author Barbara L. Behrmann addresses these issues and more. Part cultural critique, part support group, Behrmann weaves together stories with information, insight and facts. In exploring what it means to nurse in our fast-paced, consumer-oriented culture, Behrmann raises questions such as:
How does a woman’s birth experience affect her ability to breastfeed? How do hospital-based procedures and policies undermine breastfeeding? How do women deal with a baby who wants to nurse constantly or who is too sleepy to nurse? How do women feed babies born prematurely or with medical complications?
What are the struggles women experience as nursing mothers in the work force? When they have to be hospitalized? When they have twins or triplets to feed?
How do women manage the mixed messages they receive about their breasts? How does nursing affect women’s sexuality and intimacy? How do cultural standards about beauty affect the ability to produce milk?
Why do so many women describe breastfeeding as empowering, even healing? Why do some women continue to nurse preschool aged children?
An excellent resource for expectant women, new mothers, those who work with them, and anyone interested in the cultural politics of parenting, The Breastfeeding Café educates, surprises, and inspires. “Breastfeeding isn’t just important for babies,” asserts the author, “it also matters to women and to the kind of parent-child relationships mothers want to create.”