The breastfeeding woman? who are breastfeeding books really for?

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Hannah Luedtke (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Hephzibah Roskelly

Abstract: Breastfeeding education takes place in a variety of venues. Through books, workshops, classes, one-on-one discussions, and websites, women are told why and how to breastfeed. One of the most long-standing and slow-changing areas of education is books on breastfeeding. Written by a variety of individuals and organizations, each book on breastfeeding presents breastfeeding under a different light, with slightly diverse styles directed toward best reaching their ideal audience. These variations in content and approach meet the needs of individual mothers differently, making each book better fitted for certain groups than others. In analyzing the content of a few specific books, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding 8th ed. by Diane Wiessinger, Diana West, and Teresa Pitman, Breastfeeding Made Simple 2nd ed. by Nancy Mohrbacher and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, The Nursing Mother's Companion 6th ed. by Kathleen Huggins, and Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding by Ina May Gaskin, a clearer view of which women may be highlighted or excluded can be gained. The groups that may be highlighted or excluded in turn affect the social perceptions of breastfeeding. How do these books directly and indirectly exclude certain populations from breastfeeding education? In order to look more closely at this question, I will look at the infant feeding practices, biological assumptions and treatments, and personal/social contexts presented in these books. Some questions to be addressed are: Who, statistically, is likely to breastfeed? Are these books reaching the mothers that are already likely to breastfeed or are they looking beyond to additional groups? Moreover, what does this image of the breastfeeding mother say about the social messages of breastfeeding education? What are the consequences of excluding certain mothers from who is valued enough to receive breastfeeding assistance? What does this in turn say about how the children of those women are valued? What changes could be made to any of these books or to breastfeeding education strategies to make breastfeeding education more accessible to all mothers? How inclusive are these four breastfeeding books in addressing all mothers interested in reading about breastfeeding? In addition, how does the (lack of) addressing contextual issues in breastfeeding education affect larger issues of women's status? Why does it matter if these books address pumping, being away from baby, partner involvement, or societal response? The questions will all come together to create a picture of who is assumed to be the breastfeeding mother. Helping mothers have success breastfeeding has motivation beyond the individual breastfeeding relationships. Breastfeeding can be used as a reason to deny women certain opportunities or to place certain judgments on them unless these issues are addressed more largely in society. Educating mothers about breastfeeding includes educating them about how society might react to their breastfeeding and how they can be prepared for certain reactions. Furthermore, addressing the social realities that women live in and how society may need to change must not be ignored either.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2015
Breatfeeding, Lactation, Mother
Breastfeeding $x Social aspects
Breastfeeding $x Study and teaching

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