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Natural Motherhood Redux

(p.213) Epilogue
Back To the Breast
Jessica L. Martucci
University of Chicago Press

The Epilogue explores more recent attempts by U.S. mothers to reclaim authority over breastfeeding through various approaches. Some have challenged medical claims to the superiority of breast milk feeding when in fact, recent critics have suggested that there is little evidence to support such assertions. Critics in this camp argue that mothers have been bullied and coerced into an exhausting and unremunerated labor of breast pumping when there is no indication that disembodied breast milk is better for babies than most formula. Furthermore, critics of breast pumping state that breast milk feeding under these circumstances can yield more harm, psychologically, than good for many mothers. Other women have used this emerging discourse to challenge American cultural and political attitudes and policies towards motherhood more broadly. Finally, the persisting power of the ideology of natural motherhood continues to evoke strong arguments in favor of breastfeeding. The Epilogue provides a final analysis of these divergent perspectives on breastfeeding and motherhood in the twenty-first century and suggests new ways in which we might think about the emotionally and politically fraught decision to breastfeed.

Keywords:   breast pump, breastfeeding, feminism, bottle feeding, motherhood, work

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