The New Yorker has an article on the history of nursing and pumping.

It was quite timely that somone pointed me to this story, given the identity crisis that I have been wallowing in for the past couple of years. The article itself, I love and hate. Mostly the latter.

Pumping is no fun—whether it’s more boring or more lonesome I find hard to say—but it has recently become so common that even some women who are home with their babies all day long express their milk and feed it in a bottle. Behind closed doors, the nation begins to look like a giant human dairy farm.

I think that to suggest that we breastfeeding moms spend our day pumping so that we can then spend our days feeding from a bottle is pretty misleading. I don’t know anyone, not a single mom out of all of the 50+ breastfeeding moms that I know right now, who does this. In fact, most of the women that I know (and by saying “most”, I am being generous because I really should say “all”) hate pumping, dread pumping, and do it only because they really believe that the sacrifice is worth it for their babies.

The history in the article is spotty and I will just leave it at that. I don’t have a university library in front of me, but I wrote enough papers on the history of motherhood and women’s sexuality and reproduction to know when someone is stretching the truth to suit the slant of their article. But… it’s the New Yorker, not a history  journal and it’s 5 pages, not 50. So, moving on to the stuff I did like…

Non-bathroom lactation rooms are such a paltry substitute for maternity leave, you might think that the craze for pumps—especially pressing them on poor women while giving tax breaks to big businesses—would be met with skepticism in some quarters. Not so. The National Organization for Women wants more pumps at work: NOW’s president, Kim Gandy, complains that “only one-third of mega-corporations provide a safe and private location for women to pump breast milk for their babies.” (When did “women’s rights” turn into “the right to work”?)

Ah-ha! Were we not just discussing this?

She could have mentioned the melamine-tainted formula or the research suggesting that we now have too much (non-organic, genetically-modified, highly-processed) soy in our diet, starting with soy formula, when discussing why some mothers might choose to take pumping breaks instead of coming home early. And she might have not assumed that an employer would let a mother leave early even if chose to forgo the breaks altogether. And she might not have made pumps sound like such chic accessories that we are all just dying to tote around a la Will Ferrell. Okay. I guess I just like that one point she made, after all.

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