EP48: Kimberly Seals Allers on How Medicine, Big Business and Feminism Undermine Breastfeeding

What She Shares:

  • How her book, The Big Letdown, explores the connections between medicine, big business and feminism and their effects on breastfeeding women today.
  • How the environment we are currently in sets us up for failure.
  • The importance of using our power as consumers to start dialogues with our care providers about breastfeeding and lactation.
  • Taking morality and guilt out of the current debate on breastfeeding and birth.
  • The ways feminism has let mothers down.
  • The importance of re-centering mothers in the fight for reproductive justice and freedom.

What You’ll Hear:

  • How the field of pediatric medicine arose in conjunction with the development of infant formula.
  • How this original alliance has shaped the pediatric field and its relationship to breastfeeding.
  • Breastfeeding and lactating management are not taught in medical school.
  • The lack of holistic care for women after birth: “Women are broken down into the sum of their parts.”
  • How we only deal with the body when it’s diseased, while there’s very little support for its normal biological functions.
  • These natural functions are embodied and unable to be monetized. What’s the economic incentive to support them?
  • Our increasingly isolated lives contribute to this loss and to the stress that negatively impacts a woman’s milk supply.
  • There are some cultures where this disruption never happens.
  • We have to examine the systems we’re living in and how they set us up for failure.
  • The importance of creating a dialogue with pediatricians and holding them accountable for having training that comes from an unbiased source.
  • What is “Choice Feminism”?
  • Parsing out the moral language in the current debate over what is natural in birth and breastfeeding.
  • “The guilt is not about you. It’s the system that let you down.”
  • How this “blame and shame” conversation divides and distracts people from the larger issues.
  • Cultural acceptance, public support, and encouragement from pediatricians can help women overcome obstacles to breastfeeding.
  • The high cost of our feminist inheritance of “doing it all” and being “equal” to men.
  • We have to see the work of mothering as just as or even more important than our productive work.
  • Play the long game: investing in your health at this time can benefit you for the rest of your life.
  • We can’t evaluate our individual actions without also considering the systems in place around us.
  • The importance of including motherhood in the conversation around reproductive rights.
  • Kimberly Seals Aller’s upcoming webinar offerings.

Free: Upcoming webinar on Ethics and Supporting African-American Communities with Breastfeeding



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