Jack Saturday

Saturday, September 02, 2006




All around me men [sic]
are working;
but I am stubborn, and take no part.
The difference is this:
I prize the breasts of the Mother.

Lao Tzu,
Tao Te Ching


… a two-class system is emerging for working mothers. For those with autonomy in their jobs — generally, well-paid professionals — breast-feeding, and the pumping it requires, is a matter of choice. It is usually an inconvenience, and it may be an embarrassing comedy of manners, involving leaky bottles tucked into briefcases and brown paper bags in the office refrigerator. But for lower-income mothers — including many who work in restaurants, factories, call centers and the military — pumping at work is close to impossible, causing many women to decline to breast-feed at all, and others to quit after a short time.

“I feel like I had to choose between feeding my baby the best food and earning a living,” said Jennifer Munoz, a former cashier at Resorts Atlantic City Casino who said she faced obstacles that included irregular breaks and a refrigerator behind a locked door. She said she often dumped her milk into the toilet, knowing that if she did not pump every few hours, her milk supply would soon dwindle.

Wealthier women can spend their way out of work-versus-pumping dilemmas, overnighting milk home from business trips and buying $300 pumps that extract milk quickly, along with gizmos that allow them, in what seems like a parody of maternal multitasking, to pump while driving to and from work.
On the Job,
Nursing Mothers Find a 2-Class System
By Jodi Kantor
New York Times
Published: September 1, 2006

Bottlefeeding, the grandaddy of all junk food, wasn't then, isn't now, and never will be "as good as" breastfeeding. Human milk is designed for human babies, cow's milk for calves. The structure and composition of each is suited to the particular needs of the intended recipient. Among animals, switching milk sources, say, for example, giving a calf sow's milk, results in sickness and, often, death for the newborn.

The bottlefed human baby is substantially more likely to suffer a whole nightmare of illnesses: diarrhea, colic, gastrointestinal and respiratory infections, meningitis, asthma, hives, other allergies, pneumonia, eczema, obesity, hypertension, atherosclerosis, dermatitis, growth retardation, hypocalcemic tetany, neonatal hypothyroidism, necrotizing enterocolitis, and sudden infant death syndrome. From a scientific, biological standpoint, formula feeding cannot be considered an acceptable alternative to breastfeeding, especially since more than ninety-nine percent of new mothers are perfectly capable of doing it.
Dr Robert Mendelsohn, M.D.

Read his book

On American psychologist Harry Harlow:

To test his theory, he created two fake mothers for his baby monkeys - one made of wire and one made of cloth and warmed from within by a light bulb. Both "mothers" were given a face, and a "breast" in the form of a bottle from which the babies could feed. Both fulfilled all the biological needs of their "children", feeding them and so forth, but only the cloth mother was made with comfort in mind. The monkeys showed very little interest in the wire mothers, but developed strong attachments to the cloth mothers - clinging to them tightly and becoming distressed when they were removed.

Even if two mothers were provided - a wire one with milk and a cloth one without - the monkeys would prefer the latter. The conclusion was that comfort was much more important to the babies than other variables such as feeding.

If Harlow separated baby monkeys from their new cloth mothers, even for long periods, the importance of the relationship was never forgotten. As soon as their surrogate mother was returned, the monkeys would immediately rush to cling desperately to her.
Paul’s Tips
[emphasis JS]


Very young infants have several behaviors through which they seek or maintain contact with their caregiver. These include grasping, rooting, sucking, and shifting position. Bowlby (1982) noted that sucking serves two purposes for infants: nutrition and attachment. He recognized both purposes as important, stating "to suppose that nutrition is in some way of primary significance and that attachment is only secondary would be a mistake. In fact, far more time is spent in non-nutritional sucking than in nutritional" (Bowlby, 1982, p. 249). According to Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, and Wall (1978), rooting and sucking, which are food-seeking behaviors as well as attachment behaviors, tend to break from the attachment system in bottle-fed babies.

Touch is crucial to survival and bonding. As numerous animal and human experiments have shown, infants, both animal and human, fail to thrive or die without touch (Blackwell, 2000). Breastfeeding is an obvious way to promote touch between mother and infant. The skin to skin contact intrinsic to breastfeeding is believed to promote secure attachment (Pearce, 1994). Touch helps to equalize infant body temperature and breathing and establishes a caregiving relationship between mother and child within which the two learn from each other. Furthermore, Joseph Chilton Pearce asserts, when a mother is bonded to her child and is engaged in actively mothering that child according to the child's needs, the mother will breastfeed the child on demand for two to three years. Extended breastfeeding of children until between two and six years of age is found in countless other cultures (Blackwell, 2000; Lozoff & Brittenham, 1979; Thevenin, 1987) and is increasingly common among families who practice natural or attachment parenting in this country.
Tami E. Breazeale
[emphasis JS]
[excellent article--J]

The breastfeeding mother and child must physically connect in order to nurse.

Breast milk is free. Although some mothers may need to increase their own nutritional intake, the cost of food for the mom is negligible compared to the cost of baby milk substitutes. In 1997, formula-feeding would have added approximately $30 per week or $1500 per year to the family grocery bills (LLLI, 1997).

comment from Jack:
Right: If babies are given what they need early, they won’t spend a lifetime seeking counterfeits. Mothers and babies should be physically together; babies need the mother’s body, not just milk mailed to them or bottle-fed them. The comfort and safety of the mother’s body is as important as the milk. Breastfeeding is an essential service to humanity and the planet. Emotional well-being is important both for the pregnant and nursing mother. It is the community’s job to provide the means for that well-being. Let’s stop institutionalized abandonment trauma and chronic diseases.


  • Just found this blog entry via google. It's been a few years since I wrote that thesis (and I'm still breastfeeding, but I'm on my third child now..) but the info is still solid and does not get enough attention. Perhaps becaused there is not enough money to be made on moms breastfeeding and meeting their children's needs directly?! Take care, Tami

    By Anonymous Tami Breazeale, at 8:43 PM  

  • Hi Tami:
    As a member of the endangered species, homo “sapiens sapiens,” I thank you and whoever supports you to provide this for your kids. I happen to believe that it’s not only that there is no apparent money to be made immediately from breastfeeding mothers, there is no support or understanding at all of the crucial importance of a domestic haven for the baby’s growth and the mother and baby’s relationship. Mothers of babies should never have to worry about money. Their very demanding and taxing work is cut out for them, and our society’s official attitude to the most important job on the planet is to find ways to snap the bond, get the mother off to serve Wal-Mart and the kid to an institution and some good pharmaceuticals. The mother, too, for that matter—that makes money.

    I suspect it is mothers like yourself who have retrieved some of the importance of breastfeeding and “taking your cue from the child” who have produced “the Millennial Generation” who, because they got what they needed at stage-specific times of growth, are more worldly, compassionate, tolerant, and less greedy.


    By Blogger Jack Saturday, at 8:19 AM  

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