Hachette Book Group’s privacy policy has been updated effective September 28, 2017. You can read the updated policy here. You can also email any questions to HBG-Privacy@hbgusa.com.

We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience, analyze site traffic, personalize content, and serve targeted advertisements. You can find out more or switch them off if you prefer here. By continuing to use the site without changing settings, you consent to our use of cookies.



How Feminists and Fundamentalists, Hippies and Yuppies, and Physicians and Politicians Made Breastfeeding Big Business and Bad Policy

Is breast really best? Breastfeeding is widely assumed to be the healthiest choice, yet growing evidence suggests that its benefits have been greatly exaggerated. New moms are pressured by doctors, health officials, and friends to avoid the bottle at all costs—often at the expense of their jobs, their pocketbooks, and their well-being.

In Lactivism, political scientist Courtney Jung offers the most deeply researched and far-reaching critique of breastfeeding advocacy to date. Drawing on her own experience as a devoted mother who breastfed her two children and her expertise as a social scientist, Jung investigates the benefits of breastfeeding and asks why so many people across the political spectrum are passionately invested in promoting it, even as its health benefits have been persuasively challenged. What emerges is an eye-opening story about class and race in America, the big business of breastfeeding, and the fraught politics of contemporary motherhood.
Read More

Genre: Nonfiction / Social Science / Women's Studies

On Sale: November 24th 2015

Price: $26.99

Page Count: 272

ISBN-13: 9780465039692

What's Inside

Read More Read Less


Publishers Weekly
“Jung makes some thoughtful points against seeing the practice [of breastfeeding] as the most or only acceptable option for mothers.... [H]er intersectional perspective, which looks at how feminist concerns mesh with those related to race and class, may encourage advocates to approach new moms with more sensitivity, and to view the ubiquity of breast pumps with a slightly more dubious eye.”

Shelf Awareness
“[Jung's] research is extensive.... Lactivism illustrates how a woman's choice has become a matter of public health and a socially enforced necessity. A critical look at policies that have cemented poor science and damaged women's rights in the United States.”

Kirkus Reviews
“Jung offers readers an inside look at the modern world of breast-feeding, which has undergone transformative changes since its revival in the United States in the 1970s.... Using solid evidence to back her statements, the author analyzes how the simple act of breast-feeding has shifted into a mechanical process through the use of breast pumps, with a salable commodity: the breast milk.... A levelheaded, well-researched analysis of the many ‘trappings of contemporary breastfeeding culture.'”
Washington Post
“Jung lays out an intriguing analysis of how different groups have interpreted the ‘breast is best' slogan to reflect their own agendas. Feminists see breast-feeding as empowering. Conservative Christians see it as an affirmation of traditional gender roles, as well as evidence of intelligent design. Hipsters see it as an extension of the local food movement, while attachment-parenting adherents see it as essential to the mother-infant bond.”

“[An] engaging, well-researched book.... With compelling evidence, the author debunks the myths surrounding this policy issue for women and finds that breastfeeding policy is more effectively framed as a matter of employment, women's reproductive rights, and medical leave policy. This book is a must read for those interested in public policy, women's studies, health care policy, and labor policy.”

New Republic
“Jung's more interesting findings relate to what the decision between nursing and formula has become in contemporary U.S. society, where, she writes, ‘Breastfeeding is never just breastfeeding.' It's also a moral marker, distinguishing good parents from bad, and it's a status symbol that, unconsciously in some cases, lionizes the choices of white college-educated parents.”
Lori Gottlieb, The New York Times Book Review
“The truths [Jung] uncovers may make your jaw drop.... But perhaps most interesting is Jung's astute observation that what is being so ardently promoted isn't actual breast-feeding – whereby a baby is fed from the breast – but human milk as a product, creating pressure for working mothers of all income levels to pump in less than ideal conditions, when what might benefit them and their babies most is paid maternity leave (or simply using formula).... [Jung's] keen analyses and wry humor keep the reader engaged.”

Wall Street Journal
“[Jung] makes a provocative case that [breast-feeding's] benefits have been drastically oversold.... [She] is particularly sharp in describing how 21st-century policy makers have turned breast-feeding into a consensus issue.”

Weekly Standard
“Highly readable.... [Jung] makes a strong argument: If women are supposed to have a ‘choice' about their reproductive activities, why can't they choose how to nourish the offspring that might emerge?”
National Post, Canada
“A clear-eyed analysis of how good intentions paved the road for a crisis of shaming and policy, Jung's Lactivism is unimprovable reading for anyone interested in the intersection of social and political spheres.”

National Post
“Jung's book is a bold challenge to the prevailing parenting orthodoxy.”

Winnipeg Free Press, Canada
“Lactivism is a bold and brave investigation into the multifaceted and extremely persuasive indoctrination that breastfeeding is the only acceptable way to be a good mother in the United States.... [A] well-researched and easy-to-read book.... [Jung] effortlessly investigates and clearly explains the convoluted legacy and realities of the resolve that ‘breast is best' in seven accessible, engaging chapters. Her conversational tone, personal stories and, at times, humorous approach gently take the reader through the logic of her persuasive argument.”

Michelle Goldberg, Slate Double X
“[A] groundbreaking new book.... Jung's subject in Lactivism isn't nursing itself, but a strain of advocacy that prizes feeding babies breast milk above all else, no matter the cost to their mothers or, in some cases, the babies themselves.... [An] important book.”
Nancy Fraser, Loeb Professor of Philosophy and Politics, New School for Social Research
“This riveting book charts the constellation of unlikely bedfellows that have together made it obligatory to feed babies breast milk. Weaving a tale of corporate profiteering and shoddy research, yuppie status mongering and racist victim-blaming, as well as punitive policies that deny food to formula-fed children, Courtney Jung explains the social forces behind America's love-affair with the breast pump—not least the country's failure to provide its workers with paid maternity leave. Eye-opening and thought-provoking, Lactivism is a must read!”

Patricia Pearson, author of Opening Heaven's Door
“With a nimble grasp of social and cultural trends, Jung shows how the best of intentions—encouraging mothers to feel comfortable breastfeeding—can turn into the worst of societal instincts: piety, judgement, the production of damning yet misleading data about breast being best, and rampant economic opportunism. If you're like me, and only ever managed to produce four molecules of milk with a breast pump, this even and astute analysis of modern breastfeeding will absolve you of sin.”