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At the Breast: Ideologies of Breastfeeding and Motherhood in the Contemporary United States
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At the Breast: Ideologies of Breastfeeding and Motherhood in the Contemporary United States

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  37 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
In our ironic, "postfeminist" age few experiences inspire the kind of passions that breastfeeding does. For advocates, breastfeeding is both the only way to supply babies with proper nutrition and the "bond" that cements the mother/child relationship. Mother's milk remains "natural" in a world of genetically modified produce and corporate health care. But is it a realistic ...more
Paperback, 296 pages
Published June 9th 2000 by Beacon Press (first published April 27th 1999)
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Just bought this...excited to read it next...
Hmmm. This book was a valuable read. Even with all of the idiosyncrasies it held. I think she definitely wrote it from her own place of bias and privilege and rather than address her own thoughts around breastfeeding, she made assumptions about others' thoughts. I do not agree with all of her conclusions regarding economic pressures and her solutions, but it was a good treatise for me to examine my own beliefs and if I am truly meeting mothers where
Dec 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
sometimes i think i'm one of those most cranky, curmudgeonly people on the planet, taking issue with the minutiae of pop culture that other people apparently take in stride and figure i ought to be sent to my own private island but then, but then!!, i come across a book like this which validates my sometimes over-thinking and says yes, question, question, question away! seriously this is one of the most profound books i have read, ever, talking about a topic you really can't talk about in a seri ...more
May 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
In a culture where breast feeding is almost universally touted as the cure for everything from low IQs to allergies to breast cancer, Linda Blum provides a much needed critical voice into the discussion of breast feeding in the United States. She begins by placing the current public health campaign to increase breast feeding in the United States within a historical context that has seen a variety of infant feeding practices receive medical endorsement. Unlike most of the literature on breastfeed ...more
Jan 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book investigates the history of breastfeeding in the United States, with a special focus on the emergence and continuance of the La Leche League, and provides an interesting discussion about infant-feeding among white working-class mothers as well as African-American working-class mothers. I found this book to be very thought-provoking, as Blum reveals the "deeply embedded social problems" that are largely ignored by public health frameworks in their efforts to increase breastfeeding rates ...more
Molly Westerman
This book is a very valuable contribution to any conversation about breastfeeding, especially because it gives more than passing attention to race and class. That's, unfortunately, pretty unusual; too many books on women's reproductive and parenting experiences sort of vaguely imagine that all mothers (who matter) are white and financially secure. Blum's analytic care and her thoughtfulness about agency (in terms of keeping institutional-level realities and limitations in focus while also honori ...more
While I don’t agree with some of Blum’s central assertions (namely that breastfeeding is pushed by medical professionals — if anything, it’s the opposite, and there is no examination of why breastfeeding doesn’t tend to warrant substantial training), this is a very good overview of breastfeeding ideologies of the United States across the past century with (and this is the key!) close attention paid to marginalized groups (one might call this “history from below”, or even “subaltern studies”) tha ...more
Nov 29, 2008 rated it liked it
An examination of different groups of women and their experiences and perceptions of breastfeeding. I felt that the groupings she chose (white middle class women who belonged to LLL, white working-class women, African American working-class women) were a bit simplistic; there's a lot more to core identity than race and income. I also found a fairly overt celebration of the "wonders" infant formula--that it is so scientifically advanced, that it's basically just like breast milk, etc--while she d ...more
Alexis Pullen
Oct 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Hard nosed feminist look at the history of breastfeeding, and the power relations in race, class, and gender. Love it, love it, though don't agree with all her arguments. She really nails the idea of the disembodiment of motherhood, and offers an interesting history of La Leche League.
Jo Dagustun
Nov 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
I'm on page '296 of 296' of At the Breast: just finished this book, but not planning to put it away quite yet; loads to reflect upon in the context of my own research (and indeed life); thanks again Molly !
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