Milk, Money, and Madness: The Culture and Politics of Breastfeeding

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Overview

I commend the authors of Milk, Money, and Madness for the considerable contribution they have made by voicing their opinions, contributing their knowledge, stimulating debate and challenging conventional wisdom. Dr. Richard Jolly, Acting Executive Director UNICEF

Breastfeeding is a beautiful process. It involves the participation of both mother and child and cannot be duplicated by a glass bottle and rubber nipple. So why does the United States have the lowest breastfeeding rate in the industrialized world? In Milk, Money and Madness, Baumslag and Michels examine the issue of breastfeeding, clearly drawing a line between fact and fiction. Among the main points addressed are: o How U.S. taxpayers unwittingly support and encourage bottle-feeding by spending over $500 million each year to provide 37% of the infants in the U.S. with free formula. o How a product created to help sick children and foundlings was transformed into a powerful international industry with revenues of $22 million a day. o How an intimate and self-affirming life experience that is responsible for the survival of our species has been reduced to just one feeding option. Milk, Money, and Madness provides parents and health professionals with the information they need to fully appreciate and advise about this critical life choice. By reviewing the history, culture, biology, and politics of breastfeeding, Milk, Money, and Madness gives the reader a more complete understanding of the uniqueness of breastfeeding.

The crucial decision between breastfeeding and formula feeding is increasingly complicated by misinformation and unfounded theories which cloud the actual facts. By all accounts, breastmilk is the most amazing life-sustaining fluid known to humanity. Many women who breastfeed characterize it as perhaps the most fulfilling life experience they will ever know. Scientific research supports the fact that breastfed babies are healthier, have lower infant mortality rates and fewer chronic illnesses throughout their lives than formula-fed babies. Similarly, women who breastfeed are significantly less likely to contract serious illnesses such as breast cancer. Alarmingly few people are aware of the unique benefits of breastfeeding and do not understand the dangers and risks of feeding an infant formula. In fact, the United States has the lowest breastfeeding rate in the industrialized world. Why has our society defied common sense and scientific data when breastfeeding has so many biological, emotional, environmental, and even financial advantages over laboratory blends?

Milk, Money, and Madness is a thought-provoking book that offers honest answers and straight facts about breastfeeding. This book is designed to provide women, men, health workers, doctors, nurses, and midwives with the knowledge they need to advise or decide about the most suitable means of nourishment for infants. Baumslag and Michels consider the effects of 50 years of clever marketing and advertising which have transformed this society into one where bottle feeding is the norm and infant formula is considered to be essential to women's liberation and the forming of a paternal-infant bond. They also examine attitudes toward breastfeeding in cultures all around the world as compared to the antipathy toward breastfeeding that pervades the United States. Milk, Money, and Madness cuts through the myths and paranoia to offer an enlightening, culturally significant look at one of the most fundamentally beautiful functions of the human experience.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"With well-founded indignation, Baumslag and Michels describe a medical, political, economic, and historical background that has deprived too many infants of their nutritional birthright. Breastfeeding should need no defense….Yet a combination of forces, including sexism that distorts the breast's functional role and corporate greed that promotes artificial feeding in developing nations, has created a public health problem in which infants die unnecessariuly for lack of breast milk."

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Choice

"…not intended as a how-to manual but rather as an analysis of the medical, historical, social, economic, and political issues surrounding breastfeeding. Strongly in favor of breastfeeding under virtually any circumstances, the authors convincingly illustrate its medical and economic benefits to mothers, infants, and the general population. Useful appendixes include, among other items, a brief directory of organizations involved in the promotion of breastfeeding, a summary of recent legislation, and a recommended reading and resources list. With its in-depth analysis of the topic, this highly readable work is a worthwhile addition to public libraries and all large health sciences collections."

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Library Journal

"This book provides much information that parents and health workers need in order to understand the evolution of formula feeding and the impact made by associated advertisements."

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Midwifery Matters

"There's nothing wishy-washy about the authors' attitude about breast-feeding versus bottle-feeding: they marshal a range of medical, economic, cultural, and psychological arguments for the proposition that all infants would be better off if they were to receive some breastmilk. Baumslag…[and] Michels focus on why to (rather than how to) breast-feed. The authors survey the history of breast-feeding and its substitutes in a variety of cultures; explain the nutritional and immunological differences between breastmilk and various infant formulas; and examine the issues's economics, including the roles of formula manufacturers, governments, and employers of working mothers in the U.S. and around the world. A thorough analysis; includes tables, charts, and appendixes."

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Booklist

"This book covers a great deal. It contains a lively chapter on the history of breast-feeding, another on the value of human milk and a long chapter called Breastmilk Economics that covers the corporate and government politics."

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The Women's Review of Books

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780313360602
  • Publisher: ABC-Clio, LLC
  • Publication date: 11/28/1995
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction
Breastfeeding Beliefs and Practices
Breastfeeding Customs Around the World
Wet Nursing, Cross Nursing, and Healing Qualities of Breastmilk
Breastmilk: The Miracle Food and Medicine
Cow's Milk is for Cows
Artificial Feeding
Breastmilk Economics: Shaping Corporate and Governmental Policies
The Global Search for Formula Sales
Women and Work
References
Appendices
Index
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