Breastfeeding: Aggie Professor Joan Wolf Questions the Battle Against the Bottle

Categories: Whatever

Texas A&M
Joan Wolf asks if the breast is best
Ever since First Lady Michelle Obama talked about removing barriers for breastfeeding mothers last week, we've been thinking more than usual about boobs.

Maybe that's why we were interested to read about a Texas A&M researcher's new book, Is Breast Best?, which questions the methods of studies suggesting that boob-food is a billion times better than formula.

"Hyperbole is commonplace in the world of breastfeeding advocacy, and it is staked on an overwhelming consensus that breastfeeding is the optimal form of nutrition for virtually all babies everywhere," writes Joan Wolf, an assistant professor of women's and gender studies. She writes that her book is "a study of weak science, an investigation into how cherished but unsubstantiated beliefs about health become conventional wisdom."

We wanted to check out the buzz on some motherhood blogs, but ran into real problems when we discovered that many of these blogs had photographs of mothers who weren't hot breastfeeding in public; many had gross names (e.g., "Lactivist," "La Leche League") and then things got even worse when we read the sentence "scabbed bleeding nipples" in one blog. It's almost enough to turn a person off boobs forever. But we soldiered on and checked out the reaction on some of the more popular blogs.

Over at Blacktating, the author criticized the book before it was even released, writing that "I would argue that the risks of formula feeding are understood and that those risks are not minuscule, but you don't have to be a martyr to breastfeed. Many women come to the conclusion that bottle-feeding was not as freeing as they were led to believe it would be."

It also stirred up emotions on, where comments ranged from rabid ("typical 'new generation' feminists despising everything that womanhood has represented for thousands of years") to reasoned ("It ends saying she isn't against breastfeeding, just that others shouldn't condemn those who choose to or really truly can't breastfeed") to cynical/prophetic ("you don't think it's going to be a media (breast)feeding FRENZY when it actually hits the shelves??").

We're not really sure what to think, other than that, if a woman does breastfeed, there oughta be a cut-off point.

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showing that video does nothing to promote healthy or real conversation about breasfeeding. pandering to the lowest common denominator again, hey press? most women couldn't even continue to make milk for 8 years, even if they wanted to. grow up.


Breastfeeding should be about the health and happiness of the baby. Not about the mother or women in general. That diminishes the value of the purpose. Sure, digression should be used so that others aren't uncomfortable in public places. You snuggle your child with a bottle, Do the same or more w/ the breast. My son grew up healthy and happy. Enough said.

Gary Packwood
Gary Packwood


No comment from this dude on this article or similar content about the dog pound, food pantries or 'awareness' about something.

You get the full frontal Brer Rabbit response.

I'm laying low and practicing quietude!


Craig Malisow
Craig Malisow

Hi WhiteGuy,

Not sure if you've noticed, but here on the blog, we often employ an irreverent tone. One hint that the item above was not meant to be a scholarly examination of breastfeeding was the use of the terribly juvenile and ridiculous term "boob-food." I think it would be within the acceptable parameters of debate to allege that the video was a failed attempt at humor, but "pandering" seems a wee bit off the mark.

By the way, I just said "wee." Heh.



But it is also about the mother. Health benefits for the mother are huge- faster recovery from birth, decreased risk of ovarian, uterine and breast cancer. With 3 generations of breast cancer in my family (not all survivors, either), the benefits for me were as important as the benefits for my sons.

I think the reason that there is so much hyperbole surrounding BFing advocacy is because of how hard BFing mothers have to fight to have a place. No one looks at your twice if you're giving your baby a bottle at the mall, but people snicker, whisper and stare when you are nursing. To reach a middle ground, BFing advocates have to start at the one extreme. You don't get anywhere when you start at a position of compromise.

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