Saturday, April 6, 2013

Breastfeeding: It's Not Just for Hippies

There are so many topics swirling around in my head, I just couldn't settle on one. But today, when I should be working on a brief while le bebe naps, I am finally catching up on blog posting.

I generally dislike Hanna Rosin and her opinions*, but I just might agree with her about breastfeeding. Here is the introduction to that article, which also appeared in The Atlantic in April 2009:
  • In certain overachieving circles, breast-feeding is no longer a choice—it’s a no-exceptions requirement, the ultimate badge of responsible parenting. Yet the actual health benefits of breast-feeding are surprisingly thin, far thinner than most popular literature indicates. Is breast-feeding right for every family? Or is it this generation’s vacuum cleaner—an instrument of misery that mostly just keeps women down?
Oh, fine, I will even link you to the article. This doesn't mean I like you, Hanna Rosin.

The article points out the financial losses sustained by women who breastfeed for six months or more versus those who do not. Rosin also addresses the imbalances that can occur between moms and dads when the mom breastfeeds exclusively. Do I consider my time spent nursing my baby miserable? No. But, I am going on six months now of exclusive breastfeeding. And--see next post--I am thinking it is holding me back at work.

Should this be the case? Of course not. A nursing mother should not have to go to work for full days and hook herself up to a milking machine behind a closed (and wish it were locked, too) door for up to two hours a day. Because mothers should be able to be with their babies after they are born, and still have an expectation of returning to work a few months later. But does it matter what should or should not be? No.

I am not sure which stubborn part of me has made it this far. The part of me that thinks formula is gross? (Not that breast milk isn't, by the way.) The part of me that's in the competition that Rosin mentions in the intro to her article? Or the part of me that says "screw you, job, I'm going to feed my baby the way I want to and you can't stop me"? I feel like I am really succumbing to the status quo if I stop breastfeeding because of that last part.

Or would I simply be doing what's best for me? But this question is loaded, too. How many times do we lament the lot of working women, only to conclude that no one woman has an obligation to stand up for all women? And so we all make our own "best for me" choices, and we remain separated instead of united, and we never really fight for change in the workplace. Right now, in my life and in my career, I am just so angry about this. And I see how it leads a lot of ambitious, motivated women to just drop out of the workplace all together. I mean, why bother with all of this crap? My job and my career are important to me, but not that important.

And listen, I am not judging other women's choices...and I am not necessarily calling myself ambitious and motivated. I've always felt that people take themselves too seriously at work. I've never felt like work was the most important thing in my life. So maybe that is my problem? I will never become partner at my law firm because I don't want to become partner at any law firm. I just want to punch in, punch out, enjoy my work in between at about an 80-20 ratio, and get home at a reasonable hour so I can hang out with my kids, or train for a marathon, or whatever.

Wouldn't it be nice if you could be ambitious and motivated and still enjoy your life outside of work, too? Who is the spokeswoman for that group of people? And why isn't that group of people...I don't know...everyone?

*She is the author of The Atlantic article you might have read or heard about titled "The End of Men." Hey, I know why men are ending...and it's not because women are finally taking over the world. I am contemplating writing a full-length researched article on this topic, so can't share my opinion here just yet. (Who am I kidding? Check back in a few weeks when I have completely given up on doing anything intellectual outside of work.)

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