#1533: Breastfeeding, Exceptionally And Otherwise

Dec 12, 2018

On this week’s 51%, hear from a sociologist and author about exceptional breastfeeding, and breastfeeding poses challenges for military moms.

Considered second best to infant formula just two generations ago, breastfeeding today is regarded to be a newborn’s birthright that all manner of public health initiatives promotes. But in a new book called “Others’ Milk: The Potential of Exceptional Breastfeeding,” sociologist Kristin Wilson reveals the travails of those on the margins of breastfeeding, and what they might teach us. They want the best for their babies, but can’t provide breastmilk in the traditional way. Without ready assistance from either the medical community or society at large, and often in the face of stinging moral judgment from both, many of these so-called exceptional breastfeeders have forged their own communities, locally and on the Internet, to find solutions to their breastfeeding challenges. Wilson is chair of the anthropology department at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California. She talks about why she wrote the book and why the information is needed. 

About 80,000 women in the active duty military are mothers, and those who had children while serving often choose to breastfeed after they return from maternity leave. But inflexible work schedules and a lack of support can make it tough for them to stick with it. Carson Frame reports from San Antonio, Texas. 

This story was produced by the American Homefront Project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans. Funding comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

That’s our show for this week. Thanks to Patrick Garrett and Elizabeth Hill for production assistance. Our executive producer is Dr. Alan Chartock. Our theme music is Glow in the Dark by Kevin Bartlett. This show is a national production of Northeast Public Radio. If you’d like to hear this show again, sign up for our podcast, or visit the 51% archives on our web site at wamc.org. And follow us on Twitter @51PercentRadio