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Woman’s Right, Mother’s Milk

Woman’s Right, Mother’s Milk

The Nature and Technology of Breast Milk Feeding

(p.177) Chapter Six Woman’s Right, Mother’s Milk
Back To the Breast
Jessica L. Martucci
University of Chicago Press

Throughout much of the history of the back to the breast movement, organized medicine was at best a silent witness and at worst an active impediment. By the 1980s, however, researchers began to articulate significant benefits for infants who were breastfed over those who received formula. At the same time, breast pump technology became more and more imbedded in women's breastfeeding practices as mothers returned to work after the birth of a child in increasing numbers. Thus, as science began to adamantly tout the benefits of breast milk for babies, mothers were increasingly distancing themselves from the process of breastfeeding by extracting their milk. By the 1990s the advent of personal-use electric breast pumps helped expand the role of technology in the breastfeeding process. This analysis shows that by the early twenty-first century breastfeeding was no longer necessarily connected to the ideology of natural motherhood. Instead, breastfeeding and technologically extracted breast milk feeding had become inextricably linked as a result of this uncoupling. As the mother became increasingly distanced, both physically and metaphorically, from the process of breastfeeding, benefits that mid-century reformers had ascribed to the ecologically-bound mother-infant dyad no longer dominated breastfeeding discourse.

Keywords:   breast pump, Einar Egnell, American Academy of Pediatrics, lactation consultant, WIC

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