Aleck Ostry and I have a chapter called “Promoting Breastfeeding, Solving Social Problems: Exploring State Involvement in Breastfeeding” in the newly released edited book Fertile Ground: Exploring Reproduction in Canada (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2014).
The chapter explores how breastfeeding promotion and policy in Canada has historically tended to focus on all the social and medical benefits of breastfeeding rather than on supporting women in having positive breastfeeding experiences. Just as an example, the Canadian government promoted breastfeeding in the early 20th century as an important strategy in addressing high rates of infant mortality and concerns about nation-building and nourishing ‘infant-soldiers.’
The image below is an ad from The Globe and Mail in 1921. It says “The future of Canada lies in the arms of every nursing mothers…..Mothers of Canada, it is to the Babies you hold in your arms that Canada looks to carry on her great traditions, and upon you and your mother wisdom depends the fitness of those Babies for the mighty destiny that awaits them.”
Yes, once upon a time, breastfeeding was equated with patriotism…. There have been other times and places in history where breastfeeding has similarly been promoted as a national duty. Women’s bodies have tended to be a site where politics of all sorts are played out and represented and this collection explores some of these dynamics.
There are two other chapters on breastfeeding in the book – one by Marlene K. Sokolon and another by Robyn Lee. The book covers diverse terrain (pun intended?) including in vitro fertilization policy, alternative childbirth, and the politics and marketing of the oral contraceptive pill.
Table of Contents
Part One: The Politics of Experience
1 Exploring How Women Think About and Make Their Reproductive Choices: A Generational Approach
Diana L. Gustafson and Marilyn Porter
2 IVF Policy and the Stratification of Reproduction in Canada
3 Stratified Reproduction: Making the Case for Butch Lesbians’, Transmen’s, and Genderqueer Individuals’ Experiences in British Columbia
4 Reproducing Inequality and Identity: An Intersectional Analysis of Maternal Health Preferences
Part Two: The State of Reproduction
5 Quebec’s Constitutional Challenge to the Assisted Human Reproduction Act: Overlooking Women’s Reproductive Autonomy?
Vanessa Gruben and Angela Cameron
6 On Reproductive Citizenship: Thinking about Social Rights and Assisted Reproduction in Canada
7 Deinstitutionalizing Pregnancy and Birth: Alternative Childbirth and the New Scalar Politics of Reproduction
8 With Breast Intentions: Breastfeeding Policy in Canada
Marlene K. Sokolon
9 Doctor Knows Best: The Illusion of Reproductive Freedom in Canada
Part Three: The Discursive Politics of Reproduction: Subjectivity, Discourse, and Power
10 Girl Power and the Pill: Unpacking Web-based Marketing for Alesse and Yasmin
11 Promoting Breastfeeding, Solving Social Problems: Exploring State Involvement in Breastfeeding
Tasnim Nathoo and Aleck Ostry
12 Care of the Self: An Alternative Way to Understand Breastfeeding
13 Indigenous Body as Contaminated Site? Examining Struggles for Reproductive Justice in Aamjiwnaang
Sarah Marie Wiebe and Erin Marie Konsmo