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In certain overachieving circles, breast-feeding is no longer a choice—it’s a no-exceptions requirement, the ultimate badge of responsible parenting.Yet the actual health benefits of breast-feeding are surprisingly thin, far thinner than most popular literature indicates. Or is it this generation’s vacuum cleaner—an instrument of misery that mostly just keeps women down?But breast-feeding is the real ticket into the club.My mother friends love to exchange stories about subversive ways they used to sneak frozen breast milk through airline security (it’s now legal), or about the random brutes on the street who don’t approve of breast-feeding in public.Still, despite my stint as the postpartum playground crank, I could not bring myself to stop breast-feeding—too many years of Sears’s conditioning, too many playground spies.So I was left feeling trapped, like many women before me, in the middle-class mother’s prison of vague discontent: surly but too privileged for pity, breast-feeding with one hand while answering the cell phone with the other, and barking at my older kids to get their own organic, 100 percent juice—the modern, multitasking mother’s version of Friedan’s “problem that has no name.”And in this prison I would have stayed, if not for a chance sighting.
Even where consensus is mounting, the meta studies—reviews of existing studies—consistently complain about biases, missing evidence, and other major flaws in study design.
the playground last summer, shortly after the birth of my third child, I made the mistake of idly musing about breast-feeding to a group of new mothers I’d just met.
This time around, I said, I was considering cutting it off after a month or so.
More like tiny, unsure baby steps: two forward, two back, with much meandering and bumping into walls.
A couple of studies will show fewer allergies, and then the next one will turn up no difference.