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The Accomplishment of Breastfeeding

I just returned from my (yikes!) 40th high school reunion. I grew up in a small town, so many of my classmates shared memories all theann way back to kindergarten. It was a warm and comforting event full of acceptance and laughter.

1969-1971 was a pivotal period for high school students. While my oldest sister sat through English class in a cashmere sweater and plaid skirt, I attended our school's first Black History course dressed in bell bottoms and a hand embroidered peasant shirt.

I came of age in a time period when young women were empowered to consider new opportunities and make choices about their future.

I thought about this as I read an interview with a French feminist in The New Yorker (Against Nature, July 25, 2011). Philosopher Elisabeth Badinter claims that today's accomplished women are giving up their hard won claims to equality by being driven out of the workplace and into the arms of ecological fanatics (cloth diapers and home-made baby food), authoritarian OBs (no smoking and no champagne during pregnancy) and breastfeeding disciples (no formula, no choices). I found this article especially pertinent given that new mothers in our country now have federal support to return to work while breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding has never been a contradiction in my mind. As a supporter of the many talents of women, I feel very protective of the unique contribution mothers make to the health and well being of our world. Nurturing children is a shared experience across cultures, languages, educational and professional achievements and social standings. Breastfeeding is a timeless bond between women and a great protector of our children. I have no doubt that supporting young women to be whatever they dream to be includes providing breastfeeding support and education for mothers from all walks of life.