Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Breast Intentions?

So the New York Times apparently had some trend piece today about how breastfeeding helps women lose weight after a baby. Celebs like Rebecca Romijn said that breastfeeding was a great "diet."

Now, I am and always have been pro-breastfeeding. Also, obviously I haven't ever done it, not that Jeff doesn't try. In the interest of full disclosure, my mom is a childbirth educator who has always been a proponent of natural (i.e. vaginal, drug-free) birth and breastfeeding. It is a fact that babies who are breastfed have higher IQs, and I’m not just saying that because I was breastfed until I was almost old enough to take an IQ test. But the weight-loss angle strikes me as kind of hilarious.

"Lose weight now! Ask me how!"

It’s not that it’s not true; I’m sure it is. Apparently babies can suck up to like 500 calories a day from their mothers’ bodies, like little dieting Hoovers (although I am skeptical that all of the weight comes off without diet and exercise, too).

I just think it’s funny (and troubling) that the coverage almost makes it seem like a diet aid. I can see the ads now:


1. Get knocked up.
2. Gain 25-40 pounds.
3. Labor for anywhere from 4 to 40 hours to get that sucker out.
4. Attach baby to nipple for a few hours a day for at least six months.
5. Watch the pounds melt away! (The pounds you gained from pregnancy, that is, and maybe not even all of them.)

The small print would read:

Note: Breastfeeding does not prevent stretch marks, hormonal imbalance, or colic in either mother or child. Breastfeeding’s side effects may include wet spots on blouses, sore nipples, and general bovine feeling. Baby is non-refundable.

Our culture is so obsessed with being thin that I wouldn't be surprised if more moms started breastfeeding for the weight-loss benefits, which would be good for babies but bad for the female psyche. Birth shouldn't be about vanity. As one commenter wrote, "I would much rather see an article that first and foremost deals with the health benefits to both mother and baby in breastfeeding."

Then again, this NYT article was in the Fashion & Style section, right next to articles on how to master a runway walk and how to get Blake Lively's dumpster-dive-chic hairstyle. I don't know why I'm so surprised that it's ridiculous.



  1. I just love that you included a photo of a huge artsy breast, then didn't explain it at all. Like, yeah, what? It's a huge nipple. DEAL.

  2. That's actually a scene from Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask. That's Woody Allen with the giant boob!

  3. Anonymous4:08 PM

    I'm four months post-partum, and let me tell you, those celebrities are full of shit. Their weight loss has more to do with getting sleep (thanks to full time nannies) and working out (thanks to full-time nannies) and probably dieting.
    I gained about 40 pounds, and after losing the initial 15 (i.e., the baby and placenta) I have lost only another 5, thanks to breastfeeding and working out.
    Celebrities' attitudes irritate me : "Hey, I'm not psycho, wokring out all the time and not eating anything - I'm JUST like you. All I do is breastfeed!"


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