I came across this article, in which the author, Professor Karla Erickson, explains that if she could do it over, she wouldn’t breastfeed her son. The reason behind her proclamation is that breastfeeding promotes a “gendered division of who does what early into parenting. It provides an infrastructure for an unequal distribution of the work (and rewards) of parenting.”
In other words, moms become the primary caregiver, experts on all things baby, and number one comfort source to a child so early in life that dads cannot share the duties equally.
So in a pro-breastfeeding era, I say, “I’m out.” Not because I don’t benefit everyday from that “special connection” to my son, but because I do.
My own experience in parenting supports some of this, but I believe that if the family wants to, they can reach equilibrium quickly after breastfeeding has terminated.
I have had many “How did I get here?” moments, remembering the old days when my husband and I had the same salary and equal amounts of time logged at the grocery store. But I chose this. I chose to have a flexible work schedule, less dependable income, more time with the children, evolving from a boob-centric relationship to one in which I am the primary coordinator of playdates, afterschool activities, and bringing snacks to teacher work days.
Or did I? I’m not sure now. I was intimidated by the challenge of balancing a baby with hours in the office. I took my breast pump with me on a company retreat when Julian was 12 months old, excited but scared. I left the event a few hours early because I wasn’t comfortable being away for the full 48 hours.
Why not? Because of breastfeeding. Perhaps because of my trauma from him refusing a bottle, or maybe it was just general new mom anxiety, but I really wasn’t ready to be away from him for full workdays.
A recent article on Jezebel titled Stop acting like bouncing back from labor is even possible enumerates the ways in which postpartum care in the United States is uniquely lacking. While formula and breast pumps give us the freedom of choice to work, cultural expectations and policy put women in a position of toughing it out. Other countries offer extended paid leave, which would make breastfeeding a lot more convenient.
Would that help? Or is Professor Erickson onto something?
“Sometimes, to make sure that the next generation has more wiggle room around the gendered division of labor, we have to tuck away those breasts and reach for a bottle instead,” she wrote.
Wow. Should you not breastfeed even if you CAN?