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Unlatched: The Evolution of Breastfeeding and the Making of a Controversy (Harper)
In Unlatched, Grayson transcends today’s “mommy wars” to offer the first incisive look at the many cultural, corporate, political, and technological factors that have transformed an essential human function into one of the most controversial thrive-and- survive issues of our time.
Today, in our age of social media, the debate—vocal and contentious—is everywhere. In her book, Grayson contends that nearly daily, another breastfeeding blowup finds its way into the headlines: “Facebook Removes Photos of Women Breastfeeding, Citing Content as ‘Offensive’! Michelle Obama and Michele Bachmann Come to Blows on the Politics of Breast Pumps! Gisele Bündchen Reveals Breastfeeding Selfie on Instagram!” Says Grayson, “Even the release of scientific breastfeeding studies sent thousands of commenters running to the message boards, as women proclaimed themselves either ‘lactivists’ or proud bottle-feeders, each camp pointing fingers at the other.”
Yet as a new mother herself, Grayson had grappled with her own nursing decisions. “Breast is best may have been deposited into our national consciousness, and it may finally have become consensus in the medical establishment, yet still, we all felt pretty conflicted, even queasy about breastfeeding,” she relates. It wasn’t even until Grayson became a mother that she, admittedly a child of the Great Formula Age, began to consider the constellation of impacts of having missed out on this profound connection. Breastfeeding her own children and finding herself drawn into the larger story, she set off on a worldwide search for answers about the first, most fundamental experience of life. She discovered that the issues involved were momentous. Determined to present the full story about the connection of breastfeeding to the health and well-being of our children, in Unlatched Grayson weaves a meticulously reported and riveting journey through our breastfeeding history—from biblical times to eighteenth century France, from modern-day Mongolia to inner-city Los Angeles. Along the way, she takes readers behind the scenes at a human milk research laboratory, interviews controversial breastfeeding figures, and shares stories about nursing mothers around the world, including her own experience extended breastfeeding her two daughters.
Fascinating, far-reaching and yet intimate, Unlatched is essential reading not just for American parents and parents-to- be, but for anyone interested in the endurance of our species.
Praise for Unlatched:
"Unlatched is an intelligent, often funny, deftly written page-turner. Honestly, I'm surprised at how enthusiastically I find myself recommending a book about breastfeeding. Perfect not just for new parents, but for anyone who loves a good read. ---Anne Hathaway
"Grayson's book beautifully explains how we got to the breastfeeding brouhaha that exists in America today. This book is recommended reading for anyone who has breasts or loves them. ---Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein
"I'm hearing more and more that the root of much evil in our bad health is formula-feeding instead of breastfeeding, and with terrific investigative chops Jennifer Grayson nails the most insidious part of this: the government's role in hocking formula to the most vulnerable among us. ---Michael Moss, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter and New York Times bestselling author of Salt, Sugar, Fat
"Unlatched is a deeply engaging, highly personal, well researched, and thoughtfully balanced account of how modern society has denormalized breastfeeding."---Marion Nestle is professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University and author of, among other books, What to Eat.
"Unlatched is an essential book, not only for every parent to-be, but for physicians as well. Jennifer Grayson asks all the right questions, and it is clear that we must stop letting politics, money, and societal expectations trump good science." ---Dr. Lauren Streicher, renowned women's health expert, clinical associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, and author of Sex Rx: Hormones, Health, and Your Best Sex Ever
Jennifer Grayson is an environmental journalist and Huffington Post columnist whose work has appeared in publications including USA Today, The Washington Post, and American Baby, for which she appeared on the cover. She is a frequently interviewed expert on environmental issues, and is regularly consulted and featured by media outlets including MSNBC, WGN, McClatchy and Entrepreneur. Jennifer’s personal experiences as a new mother struggling with to-breastfeed-or- not-to breastfeed issues, coupled with her lifelong fascination with our vanishing connection to the natural world, led to her work on Unlatched. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two young daughters.
Photo by Laura Grier