At the breast: ideologies of breastfeeding and motherhood in the contemporary United States

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Beacon Press, Apr 1, 1999 - Family & Relationships - 282 pages
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At the Breast is a fascinating look at how women in different economic and ethnic groups respond to the 1990s version of idealized motherhood, particularly breastfeeding. Discouraged by the medical community from the 1950s to the 1970s, breast-feeding regained esteem in the 1980s. and now most doctors take the line that "breast is best, " In fact, as Linda Blum demonstrates, popular magazines and the news media frequently report the health benefits of breast milk for infants, so that breastfeeding is now considered the sine qua non of good mothering, and often the "bond" that cements the mother/child relationship.

As she explores the history and reasons for this shift, Blum reveals that a discussion about the seemingly private and individual practice of breastfeeding is really a larger conversation about motherhood, sexuality, class, and race. She interviews three groups of women -- the white, middle-class mothers of La Leche League and black and white working-class mothers -- to discover that breastfeeding can be, by turns, a deeply gratifying experience of embodiment, an anxiety-evoking reminder of uncertain respectability and diminished expectations, and an undesirable practice mat carries reminders of the painful history of relations between blacks and whites in the U.S.

For mothers considering their roles and for readers interested in questions of feminism. class, and race. At the Breast offers a penetrating view of our society from a unique angle.

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At the breast: ideologies of breastfeeding and motherhood in the contemporary United States

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Breastfeeding is usually considered a part of child rearing and a method of providing nutrition; this book by a sociologist examines it from a different perspective. By studying the history of ... Read full review


Breast Is Best
Breastfeeding with the Experts and the State
Mother to Mother in La Leche League

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