Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Modern Motherhood

France, 2009

An interesting piece over at Salon on whether modern, "naturalist" mothering (natural birth, co-sleeping, breastfeeding, cloth diapering) actually marks a step backwards for women.

Writer Madeline Holler, who home birthed, breastfed, and cloth diapered her babies (before ultimately quitting her job to spend more time with them in their infancy), explains how her mother did it all so very differently in order to maintain her hard-won career and wonders who had it right.

She also cites a book by feminist Elisabeth Badinter, The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women, which makes the case that modern mamas' obsession with doing everything naturally makes their lives exceedingly more difficult and handicaps them in other areas of life, like work.

It hits a cord with me, not least because I am contemplating going back to an office.

Lately I've read a few really heartbreaking blog posts from women who struggled with breastfeeding, and who felt like total failures when they had to switch to formula. I've spoken to other mothers who feel that having a nanny is tantamount to child abuse, or who feel that if they get an epidural during labor they are somehow less than.

There just seems to be so much guilt and grief over these topics, when in reality, as long as a baby is safe and well loved, is it really worth all the psychic drama? Of course I intend to breastfeed if I can, am curious about natural birth (even if I draw the line at co-sleeping and cloth diapering.)  But I do feel, to a certain extent, that that voice in womens' heads that says it-doesn't-count-unless-it's-100%-organic-painful-and-bloody-hard is kind of counter-productive.

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