A lot of my dear friends are having babies and as it's given me a small dose of baby fever. The result has been to read Breasts; A Natural and Unnatural History by Florence Williams and to watch the documentary Breastmilk by Dana Ben-Ari.
This book was perfect for satisfying all the questions you didn't know you had about the female breast. Breasts begins with origins about how the breast could have evolved and for what purpose, before going into a number of chapters on the nutritional value of breast milk versus formula. Breastmilk contains invaluable probiotics that help baby develop strong and healthy gut flora. However, babies who drink formula end up consuming more protein and stay full longer. What ever benefits breast milk has to offer are equally ruined by the amount of chemicals your baby is getting from those lovely breasts of yours. That being another big chapter- the amount of chemicals that are in every bath product, hair product, make up product, house hold cleaner, food container, computer and so on forever, that your breast tissue just loves to absorb and then pass to your new born baby. Also, formula is getting much better - so there is really a lot less harm in supplementing than people think. Williams did many tests on her own blood, only to discover that women in the United States have more chemicals in their blood than any other first world country - mostly because many products and companies are not regulated. Williams also spent a great deal of time talking about breast cancer and how difficult it is to make a direct connection between what chemicals are causing the growth of unnatural tumors. A great deal of time was spent on male breast cancer, because it is so rare and can therefore paint a more clear picture of where cancer might be coming from. There was a fair amount of personal narrative, enough to give this research project a place to live and keep the story moving forward. This is an excellent book for women who want to know about their breasts.
Breastmilk, by Dana Ben-Ari, is a documentary solely about the complicated and sometimes precarious relationship between mothers who breast feed and mothers who bottle feed. A lot of guilt is placed on mothers who can't breastfeed or can't produce enough milk by lactivistas who believe that it's wrong to bottle feed at all. The documentary felt sad at points, mostly because the women who were really good at breast feeding were not so sympathetic to women who really tried to make breastfeeding work. There were a number of great scenes where breast milk was shooting out of a variety of nipples. I was a bit squeamish the entire time but it was worth the watch!