Breastfeeding has become the last legitimate “women’s work” — the only argument remaining for a gendered division of labor that argues that women’s place is at home with the children. And in order to fulfill this social agenda, it has been elevated to monumental status in order to fill the gap left by the erosion of other arguments in favor of keeping women out of the workforce.
A huge percentage of lactivist messaging pressures women to abandon or postpone their careers in order to stay home and breastfeed their babies.
And this is no coincidence — pushing women out of the workforce and back into the home has been a core aspiration of breastfeeding advocacy since the very beginning. The La Leche League was founded with the express mission of tying women to their babies through breastfeeding in order to keep them at home, and spoke of breastfeeding as “God’s plan for mothers and babies.” The original 1981 edition of the La Leche League manifesto The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding explicitly states that the only justification for mothers to work is financial necessity, and teaches group leaders to encourage women to leave their jobs and stay home full time.
And although the message has been toned down in the intervening years, it is still alive and thriving practically undiluted in lactivist circles.
In the 2013 edition of The Baby Book, attachment parenting guru Dr. Sears starts off by affirming that you can work and breastfeed at the same time, but quickly adds that the “ideal” is to “minimize time away from [your baby] while working.” And all pretense gets dropped in the chapter titled “Working and Parenting,” which declares:
To write that full-time attachment mothering makes no difference would be dishonest, ignoring what both research and experience have shown and trading truth for popularity.
The rest of the chapter admonishes mothers that “[y]our presence is important to your baby’s development,” and “[w]hile quality time is important, so is the quantity of time.” The chapter continues to argue that “the effects of mother-baby separation… are a lessening of the benefits of mother-infant attachment” and baldly states, “If you are blessed with a high-need baby … full-time mothering for a longer time may be your only real option.”
(Apparently none of this logic applies to fathers, though.)
And I have become increasingly convinced that Dr. Sears’ message is the rule, not the exception. If you look closely, you can see arguments for breastfeeding as proof that motherhood is women’s destiny sprinkled all throughout the breastfeeding literature. For example, the trusted and ubiquitous Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care says it this way:
Women who love breast-feeding talk about a unique sense of closeness that comes from nourishing a baby from your own body. I know many women who bottle-feed yet wonder about that feeling or perhaps yearn for it. If you find yourself moved in this direction, then by all means follow your heart.
But what if you find yourself moved in the other direction? Well, then that’s not your heart talking — it’s Big Pharma, or your demanding career, or maybe just your selfishness and vanity, you cold-hearted bitch.
The idea that a woman wouldn’t want to breastfeed is just dismissed as impossible and unnatural. Any real mother wants to breastfeed, obviously.
And make no mistake, lactivism has extremely disturbing race and class implications as well. The women most likely to initiate and maintain breastfeeding are white, middle-class, highly educated, heterosexually partnered and older mothers — in short, the ultra-privileged.
Source : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/on-breastfeeding-my-body-my-choice_us_57a376a5e4b0f019c3e4f062