Is Breast Best?

Is Breast Best?

Taking on the Breastfeeding Experts and the New High Stakes of Motherhood

Book - 2011
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New York Univ Pr
Why has breastfeeding re-asserted itself over the last twenty years, and why are the government, the scientific and medical communities, and so many mothers so invested in the idea? In Is Breast Best? Joan B. Wolf challenges the widespread belief that breastfeeding is medically superior to bottle-feeding. Despite the fact that breastfeeding has become the ultimate expression of maternal dedication, Wolf writes, the conviction that breastfeeding provides babies unique health benefits and that formula feeding is a risky substitute is unsubstantiated by the evidence. In accessible prose, Wolf argues that a public obsession with health and what she calls “total motherhood” has made breastfeeding a cause célèbre, and that public discussions of breastfeeding say more about infatuation with personal responsibility and perfect mothering in America than they do about the concrete benefits of the breast.
Parsing the rhetoric of expert advice, including the recent National Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign, and rigorously questioning the scientific evidence, Is Breast Best? uncovers a path by which a mother can feel informed and confident about how best to feed her thriving infant—whether flourishing by breast or by bottle.

Book News
Wolf (women's studies, Texas A&M U.) claims that the belief that breastfeeding is better for babies is not supported by sound evidence. She investigates how unsubstantiated beliefs about health become conventional wisdom, examining the rules of epidemiological research and the development of medical knowledge, and asks what public discourse on infant feeding in America tells us about cultural expectations of mothers and ideas about gender and motherhood. She probes the roles of advocacy organizations, government institutions, interest groups, and doctors in perpetuating what she considers the myth of breastfeeding, asserting that science has not been able to demonstrate how breast milk works to protect or promote health. The book is written in plain language, with many examples illustrating abstract concepts. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Publisher: New York : New York University Press, c2011
ISBN: 9780814794814
Characteristics: xvii, 241 p. ; 24 cm


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