Giving Compass’ Take:
• Jacqueline H. Wolf discusses the history of breastfeeding in the United States and how social structures limit women’s choices.
• How can funders help women access the option to breastfeed?
• Learn about the importance of breastfeeding.
That’s interesting to think about in terms of what happens in the 20th century as women enter the workforce in greater numbers and need to be on a schedule that’s not a baby’s. How does the history of breastfeeding intersect with the larger history of women’s place in society?
It’s a big reason why any discussion of infant feeding creates so much emotion and controversy. Women who are mothers, that tends to be a big part of their identity. We want to perform well. We want to do the best for our children. It feels very threatening to be criticized. I should say that infant feeding absolutely is a woman’s choice and there are all kinds of reasons why women choose to feed their babies however they decide to feed their babies. But you can’t talk about breastfeeding in the United States without pointing out that every other wealthy country has found a way to accommodate breastfeeding mothers, and usually in the form of lengthy paid maternity leave. It’s very hard for American women to breastfeed, even according to our own medical guidelines, because the social supports are not in place.
Read the full interview with Jacqueline H. Wolf about the history of breastfeeding by Lily Rothman at TIME.
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