When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I became all too familiar with the now ubiquitous mantra "breast is best." My nurse-midwife and the American Academy of Pediatrics both recommended that I exclusively breastfeed my firstborn for an initial six months and continue nursing her for a year or beyond—so that's what I planned to do.
I'll admit, though, that I wasn't really "feeling it." Did I really want to let some alien child glom onto my nipples for untold hours each day for months on end?
But my world was forever changed the day I received a maternity marketing "gift" package in the mail with a large canister of infant formula inside. For the first time, I considered its ingredient list—corn syrup, soy oil, a plethora of unpronounceable vitamin additives—and suddenly realized: Hey, this is what I was fed as a baby! Those manufactured ingredients had been the building blocks of my life.
Questions about how my formula-fed childhood may have affected my later health (I've always struggled with health issues) loomed suddenly before me. They were only compounded by perpetual breastfeeding "controversies" I had observed in the media and confronted myself later on as a nursing mother.
So it wasn't long before I set off on a worldwide journey to uncover what I never knew and write my new book, Unlatched: The Evolution of Breastfeeding and the Making of a Controversy. Here are 10 key things I learned about breastfeeding in my three years of research: