A team of researchers from Harvard Medical School has come across yet another reason for women to breastfeed: it reduces a woman's chance of developing type 2 diabetes. So add that to the long list of benefits breastfeeding confers on both feeder and feedee.
Breastfeeding is clearly a cornucopia of health advantages. Then why do so many women struggle with it, give it up, or forgo it altogether? Do breastfeeding difficulties vary from culture to culture? My curiosity led me to an article in LaLeche League's magazine Leaven.
Though breastfeeding is a natural act, many mothers have found it to be anything but instinctive...It is a social behavior: we learn - or fail to learn - how to breastfeed from those around us. Many women today, in the United States and other countries, have simply not had the chance to learn how to breastfeed their babies.
Boy, that's the truth! While my breastfeeding experience was mostly positive, my breasts were like complicated gizmos with no instructions. The article goes on to say, "The greater the dissonance between breastfeeding worldview and breastfeeding biology, the more likely a mother is to experience difficulty or dissatisfaction with breastfeeding." The author takes a stab at summarizing the "Mainstream American Breastfeeding Worldview," which "poses major challenges to breastfeeding."
Recall the worldview of the majority of people in the US: people are innately bad, independence is highly valued, human beings are masters of nature, the time focus is the future, and human activity means accomplishing something.
I recognized a couple of my own beliefs reflected in the above profile, particularly the "accomplishing something" part. I'd lounge around nursing all day, enjoying it immensely, but also chastizing myself for all the things I could be accomplishing but wasn't. And then there were all the well-wishers who advised me to get my son acclimated to the bottle so I could "get out." Independence was an assumed, shared goal.