Alexandra Roumbas Goldstein reviews a book which challenges both the science behind the assertions and the value of breastfeeding campaigns in a “neoliberal risk culture”
Of all the topics discussed by mothers online and off, one of the most controversial is the issue of breastfeeding. Debates and discussions rage over breast vs. bottle, with terms such as ‘Boob Nazi’ thrown around, and accusations of the dangers of formula feeding voiced in extremely passionate and emotional terms. But few people on either side of the debate seem to challenge the idea that breastfeeding is best, even confident formula feeders.
When I recently wrote about my experiences breastfeeding and the terrible guilt that can ensue when switching to formula, I too conceded that breastfeeding was the ultimate. This agreement was due to me accepting what I had been told by numerous reports and government programmes about the benefits of breast milk and breastfeeding. In Is Breast Best?, Joan B. Wolf challenges both the science behind the assertions and the value of breastfeeding campaigns, in the context of what she considers to be “neoliberal risk culture”. She does this not to defend formula feeding, but to examine the reasons behind, and effects of, the marked superiority that exists in pro-breastfeeding campaigns.