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The Politics of Breastfeeding

4.49 of 5 stars 4.49  ·  rating details  ·  214 ratings  ·  32 reviews
This work shows that breastfeeding is much more than a matter of personal inclination. Women all over the world are still being tricked into feeding their babies artificially, and this affects everyone - people's health, the environment and the global economy.
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Published May 1st 1998 by New York University Press (first published January 25th 1988)
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Katie
This should be required reading for every pediatrician, maternity ward employee, ob/gyn, midwife, doula, and parent.
Molly Westerman
This book makes important points and raises absolutely vital questions about why formula is so thoroughly normalized (and breastfeeding marginalized and made difficult, sometimes impossible) and why that matters ethically, medically, economically, and socially. I especially appreciate its constant awareness of the huge number of families--and babies--living in poverty all around the world.

Parts of it, though, are just boring--mostly because the book is erratically structured and therefore ends u
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Jen Hull
Like Half the Sky, this is another book I think everyone should read; prospective parents, parents and general civilians. I was shaking with anger while reading how companies marketing "infant formula" knowingly disadvantage or kill children born in developing countries (and, to a lesser extent, in developed nations) for pure profit. EVIL.

I quote a review printed on the back of the book because I agree with it so much:
"This book is authoritative about the evidence for breastfeeding, while makin
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Cass
This book is incredibly well referenced. Every comment and quote is annotated, making it a fabulous resource for anyone interested in, well, the politics of breast feeding.

There is some seriously eye- opening stuff within the book. It beggars belief how blatant formula companies are, how bad the formula is for society, and how the have been allowed to grow into multinational companies that control the way woman interact with their offspring.

Excellent resource.
kyliemm
A lot of this book was an angry rant, which made it hard to distinguish fact from fiction as the author presented things in her book. That said, I felt that overall, in spite of the anger, she made some incredibly valid points that changed my opinion not only about breastfeeding but culture and politics and stuff like that. Also, I didn't expect it to be a Marxist/Feminist/Postcolonial-based book, but it was, and that was awesome (ranting aside).
Tanja Russita
Yes, it was definitely wonderful!
Sometimes not an easy reading, somehow it seemed too long, sometimes depressing and sometimes obvious, but at the end very, very helpful in understanding the subject.
And must-read for everybody who is interested in it.
Lindsay
Oct 20, 2010 Lindsay rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all humans everywhere
This book is an important read for everyone, particularly women of childbearing years and all those concerned about the health of women and children.

I thought the "gallup through history" section was particularly interesting. Palmer compares the rates of breastfeeding in different ages and finds that they correspond with societal attitudes about the utility of women in general. She points out that in societies where women are more autonomous and "work" is broadly defined, babies and breastfeedi
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Stephanie
I would like to give this book 3.5 stars. I skimmed over a good part of it because the writing was unbearably dull at times and somewhat disorganized, but overall I think that what I did read was worth reading. In this book Palmer illustrates the social, political, and institutional barriers to breastfeeding throughout the world and offers solutions (some more appealing than others in my opinion) to these problems. I was struck by and even appreciative of her candid and unapologetic condemnation ...more
Sally
This book would shock most Americans. We have no idea how detrimental not breastfeeding is to many babies, nor how unethically and aggressively formula companies market to people who can't afford their product, nor the side effects. Most Americans have never heard of the WHO Code, nor do they realize how blatantly it is violated in the US.

Here's an analogy: a generation ago, we never would have guessed how crooked the tobacco companies were, in that they knew their product was killing people, y
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Amanda
Everyone should read this book. You will be amazed at the powers of breastfeeding, appalled at the greedy, inhumane actions of formula milk companies and astonished that there is such an established practice of feeding babies with artificial milk while there is a free and amazing food readily available for them.

I thought I was pro breastfeeding before I read this book, but I soon realised that I had unwittingly picked up a lot of negative cultural misconceptions. Palmer logically and methodical
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Leah
This book could have been so wonderful. It had a ton of fascinating information about the history and cultural issues surrounding breastfeeding.

The problem is that it really should have been titled "The Anti-Capitalist Politics of Breastfeeding." It was sometimes like reading a book on breastfeeding written by Karl Marx. Corporations do bear a lot of fault for the prevalence of formula feeding in our culture. (As do governments and the medical community.) But a hunter-gather society is not pref
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Jen
Forewarned: the writing was definitely dull and slow to get through at times. That said, the information printed in this book astounded me. The formula companies shameless marking and violation of WHO codes they've agreed to abide by is not only reprehensible, it's dangerous and life-threatening to mothers and babies, and ends up causing babies to die. It's also shameless how governments are in the back pockets of the formula companies.

I was also astounded to read how much healthcare dollars wo
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Sara
Every mother should read this book, especially new mothers. It is a non-fiction book, yet I could not put it down. The only downside to the book is that it was written in the 80's, when breastfeeding was just starting to make its comeback. Nowadays women are breastfeeding their little hearts out, but in the 80's there didn't seem to be a whole lot of hope left, so the author's stance takes a negative light throughout the entire book. Aside from that, I found this to be an incredibly inspiring re ...more
Sara
Every mother should read this book, especially new mothers. It is a non-fiction book, yet I could not put it down. The only downside to the book is that it was written in the 80's, when breastfeeding was just starting to make its comeback. Nowadays women are breastfeeding their little hearts out, but in the 80's there didn't seem to be a whole lot of hope left, so the author's stance takes a negative light throughout the entire book. Aside from that, I found this to be an incredibly inspiring re ...more
Ashlee Stirling
Absolute rubbish. The great points that are made and interesting facts in this book are quickly overshadowed by nonsensical rot about conspiracy theories. As someone studying to be a lactation consultant, I will take nothing from this book at all. Don't know why it has even made it on our reading list.
Emma Burns
I would love to be able to give this book five stars as I fully agree with its aim; sadly, it is a poorly written, repetitive, ranty polemic which possibly damages the cause it is arguing for. Having said that, it is worth reading as there are so few books attempting to break the cycle of ignorance surrounding the nasty tactics multinationals use to destroy the normality of breastfeeding. I recommend it, even if the writing is atrocious.
Jessica
I read this book because a review stated that almost every sentence was quotable. Never were truer words spoken. This is a history of how women have become separated from their bodies natural functions as well as their inherent abilities to provide what's best for their children. What's come in between? Industry, corporations, marketing, war, natural disasters, misogyny, etc., etc. Everything that could go wrong, has.
Anne-Marie
After an excellent start, this really tails off from about page 150 as it feels as though the author is just making the same shouty feminist, anti capitalist ranty point over and over again.

Up until this point it would be worthy of 4/5 stars and would be excellent reading for anyone expecting their first baby and wanting to breastfeed, but I just got completely bored and switched off by the ranting!
missy ward-lambert
Everybody should read this book--especially women, and especially mothers or women who want to be mothers--but really, everyone should. I read it for the first time in Valerie Hudson's class at BYU, and I've gone back to it many times. The information in this book forms the basis for my passion about breastfeeding--an issue that is both personal AND intensely political. This is a truly IMPORTANT book.
Dani
MUST read for every mother. I say mother because she is the one making the decision to breast feed or not. If you read this and still happily go and grab the 'Artificial Infant Milk' then you should read it again because you have missed the message.

Also a good and informative read if you're interested in how companies f with our trust and take our money with zero concern for our welfare.
Rhea
The only sad thing about this book is that it will only be read by the already converted, but it needs to be read by those who are not.

If you don't find this fascinating and would still rather reach for the artificial stuff, you have misunderstood.
Ashlee
Definitely provided food for thought but it is an information overload with various studies. The author does make the case for politics influencing breastfeeding but, as a breastfeeding advocate, she is obviously on the other end of the spectrum.
Audrey Buchanan
I thought I was passionate about breastfeeding before, but finding out the political, economic and even more personal ramifications of breastfeeding and the formula industry's tactics really opened my eyes. I loved it!!
Serendipitychild
Very enlightening, makes you outraged at the world, can't believe so many babies have died becuase of the lies fed to third world mothers from milk formula companies.
Maire
Gripping, depressing, invigorating. A must read for anyone passionate about breastfeeding or an interest in how corporations run the world.
Llamacroft
so far, me reading this book is preaching to the converted. A lot of scary information if you are not already informed of the dangers of formula.
Scottie
I heard Gabrielle Palmer speak about her book in maybe ohhh, 1994 and snatched up her book. WHY didn't I get her to autograph it then??
Gina
I read the 3rd updated and revised edition published in 2009.
amy
you thought you knew about breastfeeding...
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  • So That's What They're For!: The Definitive Breastfeeding Guide
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  • Childbirth without Fear: The Principles and Practice of Natural Childbirth
  • Immaculate Deception II: Myth, Magic and Birth
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  • Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding
  • Silent Knife: Cesarean Prevention and Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC)
Gabrielle Palmer is a nutritionist and a campaigner. She was a breastfeeding counsellor in the 1970s and helped establish the UK pressure group Baby Milk Action. In the early 1980s she lived and worked as a volunteer in Mozambique. She has written, taught and campaigned on infant feeding issues, particularly the unethical marketing of baby foods.
In the 1990s she co-directed the International Breas
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“In spite of lip service paid to domestic duties, in 1881 the Census excluded women’s household chores from the category of productive work and, for the first time, housewives were classified as unoccupied.” 3 likes
“The influence of bottle-feeding makes many people think that ‘nipple sucking’ is breastfeeding. It is not. If the baby sucks his mother’s nipples as he would a bottle teat, it damn well hurts.” 1 likes
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