From an environmental journalist and mother of two young breast-fed children comes this searing, insightful look into the breastfeeding controversy and puts “common knowledge” about this most natural of processes to the test by breaking down the complex cultural, corporate, political, and technological factors that have transformed the way people think about breastfeeding and the human experience.
Since the rise of infant formula in the early twentieth century, breastfeeding has gone from a basic biological function to a never-ending controversy and hot topic in the media: an Instagram photo of Blake Lively breastfeeding her daughter gained 367,000 likes and was posted across media sites from USA Today to Us Weekly. A photo of an Argentinian politician breastfeeding her 8-month-old during a session of Parliament quickly went viral, drawing a mix of support and criticism. Target’s breastfeeding policy, allowing women to nurse in any area of the store, was recently shared on Facebook to praise from mothers across America. Clearly, this is a topic that constantly makes headlines and sparks heated discussion throughout the world.
Growing up, Jennifer Grayson thought nothing of the fact that her mother had not breastfed her. It wasn’t until she became a mother herself that she realized she had missed out on a natural, profound, and incredibly important experience, one that she became determined to give to her own children. Her curiosity about breastfeeding soon turned to passion, leading her to launch a worldwide search for knowledge and stories of breastfeeding.
From biblical times to eighteenth century France, from modern-day Mongolia to inner-city Los Angeles, Grayson explores the personal stories of breastfeeding women throughout history around the world. Along the way, she takes readers behind the scenes at a lactation research laboratory, interviews controversial breastfeeding figures including Dr. William Sears, and shares her own personal experience of extended breastfeeding her preschool and toddler daughters.
Unlatched is a thorough and fascinating study of one of the most contentious issues affecting society today.
Journalist Grayson makes her mothering experience into a research project in this book-length justification for her choice to breastfeed her daughter into toddlerhood. To lend her arguments context, Grayson looks to historical precedent, from wet-nursing in 3000 B.C.E. to Industrial Revolution-era animal milk-based substitutes, and to other countries, taking a press trip to Taipei and Skyping with a health expert in Hanoi. Closer to home, she interviews an attachment parenting expert, a onetime door-to-door infant formula salesman, a microbiologist studying the composition of breastmilk, and even her own parents, all in order to understand how American culture has come to regard breastfeeding as admirable but difficult. Grayson's well-researched history lessons are mixed with plenty of anecdotes about her own children, but her firm focus on proving her point, coupled with her status as a freelancer, might make her unrelatable to both full-time parents and those navigating office life.