Bottled Up: How the Way We Feed Babies Has Come to Define Motherhood, and Why It Shouldn't

Bottled Up: How the Way We Feed Babies Has Come to Define Motherhood, and Why It Shouldn't

Bottled Up: How the Way We Feed Babies Has Come to Define Motherhood, and Why It Shouldn't

Bottled Up: How the Way We Feed Babies Has Come to Define Motherhood, and Why It Shouldn't

Synopsis

As the subject of a popular web reality series, Suzanne Barston and her husband Steve became a romantic, ethereal model for new parenthood. Called "A Parent is Born," the program's tagline was "The journey to parenthood... from pregnancy to delivery and beyond." Barston valiantly surmounted the problems of pregnancy and delivery. It was the "beyond" that threw her for a loop when she found that, despite every effort, she couldn't breastfeed her son, Leo. This difficult encounter with nursing--combined with the overwhelming public attitude that breast is not only best, it is the yardstick by which parenting prowess is measured--drove Barston to explore the silenced, minority position that breastfeeding is not always the right choice for every mother and every child.

Part memoir, part popular science, and part social commentary, Bottled Up probes breastfeeding politics through the lens of Barston's own experiences as well as those of the women she has met through her popular blog, The Fearless Formula Feeder. Incorporating expert opinions, medical literature, and popular media into a pithy, often wry narrative, Barston offers a corrective to our infatuation with the breast. Impassioned, well-reasoned, and thoroughly researched, Bottled Up asks us to think with more nuance and compassion about whether breastfeeding should remain the holy grail of good parenthood.

Excerpt

I’m watching an Internet series about pregnancy. While a new mom is being interviewed, her baby begins crying. She informs her husband (and the camera) that she’s going to “go make him a bottle.” A nervous glance passes over her face; it’s almost imperceptible, but I can see it. The guilt, the conflict, the defensiveness … it’s all there. And it hurts to watch.

Other women viewing this show will catch the moment as well, subtle as it may be. Some will grimace, familiar with the shame of being a bottle-feeding mom. Others will judge, wondering why someone held up as a shining example of motherhood isn’t breastfeeding.

Before I had my son, I probably would’ve wondered the same thing. I had always intended to nurse my child for at least a year; I didn’t allow the thought that I might fail to enter my mind. I didn’t want to breastfeed. I had to breastfeed. Which is what makes watching that episode with the bottle-feeding mom so hard.

Because that woman is me.

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