Via Belle Lettre, an interesting article from Hanna Rosin about breast-feeding. Despite the title, it’s not exactly a case against breast-feeding, so much as an argument that the (apparently quite marginal) health benefits of breast-feeding to infants have been overstated, and the burden on mothers tends to get overlooked:
Breast-feeding exclusively is not like taking a prenatal vitamin. It is a serious time commitment that pretty much guarantees that you will not work in any meaningful way. Let’s say a baby feeds seven times a day and then a couple more times at night. That’s nine times for about a half hour each, which adds up to more than half of a working day, every day, for at least six months. This is why, when people say that breast-feeding is “free,” I want to hit them with a two-by-four. It’s only free if a woman’s time is worth nothing.
Since I’m not a parent and hopefully for all concerned am not going to become one in the foreseeable future I have no direct skin in this game (and more importantly don’t know enough to effectively evaluate the evidence), so I’m more interested in opening up the discussion to people who have devoted more thought and research to this issue. Given my inherent skepticism about arguments from nature, I find Rosin’s arguments very interesting.