Is it “The Case Against Breastfeeding” or a Case Against Dr. Sears?
May 28, 2009 · Posted in Breastfeeding, Feeding, Infant Development, Parenting · Permalink

izs002157The Case Against Breast Feeding by Hanna Rosin appears in the April issue of The Atlantic. The title is sensationalistic. The content of the article addresses inconsistent findings in medical literature about the superiority of breast feeding, the snobbery of the 21st century perfectionistic supermom, and the possibility that the pressure to nurse is a new form of prison for women.  All  interesting.  In our previous post on breast feeding we addressed some of these same issues. Judith Warner, of the New York Times reacts to this article with admiration and the anticipation of reprisal. While she applauds Rosin’s challenge to present day pressure on women to exclusively breast feeding, she fears the backlash. “I am sure that … the Dr. William Sears-inspired attachment parenting crowd will soon assail her in the blogosphere.”

We are struck that both Rosin and Warner still look to Dr. Sears and his disciples for affirmation.  We were hoping we were about done with Dr. Sears and “attachment parenting”.  I can’t count  the number of mothers who have come to Soho Parenting with Post Sears Traumatic Disorder. Here are the symptoms: debilitating guilt, exhaustion, crying outbursts, marital conflict and a baby who cannot sit or play independently for more than two minutes. Of course, that could describe any new mother, but the followers of Sears have a special brand of this overwhelmed state.  They have drunk the Sears Kool-Aid that 24/7 nursing, holding, “bonding” with your baby is the only way to secure the mother baby attachment. They come for guidance when their babies are 6, 9, 12 months, feeling like complete failures. They just can’t manage what Martha Sears has purportedly done with her 11 children.

The detox program we offer is simple. Feed your baby during the day when she should be eating. Have them sleep from a nice early bedtime until morning.  Honor your babies need for comfort, connection and love as well as for solitude and their capacity to use and develop their own resources.

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  1. kcf
    May 28th, 2009 | 3:26 pm

    Hear hear!

  2. Liz
    May 29th, 2009 | 3:05 pm

    I personally suffered from PSTD after my mother-in-law so thoughtfully sent me Sear’s book. Thanks for reminding me I was not the only mother who bought into this and reconfirming how off-base his approach really is.

  3. Gail
    June 1st, 2009 | 10:29 pm

    How funny that before you are a parent, the world of “parenting styles” is totally foreign to you. I had no idea that there were “parenting styles” ( with names even… attachment parenting… parent directed… child directed…) – so, when a friend of mine showed up at my baby shower with the gift of a Dr. Sears book, and the advice that she and her husband agreed to “not make ourselves crazy with a bunch of books” and to adhere to only one, it seemed so reasonable to me. I didn’t know that it was a “style”. By default, and by naivete, Dr Sears became my only source, until I started to figure it out on my own (and with the help of the mother’s circle and other inputs)

  4. Carolina T
    June 3rd, 2009 | 6:53 pm

    I spent a year feeling like a complete failure after my baby was born because I needed to go back to work. Sears books made me feel so guilty for not being with my son 24/7. He has some good advice about some things but in general his approach is too drastic!

  5. Gem
    December 1st, 2009 | 4:26 am

    Actually I found the opposite. To me, Dr Sears validates a woman’s nurturing instinct to pick up her baby when he/she cries and be responsive to their needs rather than have the stress of forcing down your instincts aka babywise style and many othere routine styles. I was given the book babywise and have since learned how stupid the whole western idea of solitary sleep is when you understand how human milk is produced and human milk for human bubs is obviously ideal although I am glad we have formula for situations in which it is impossible and feel for women who miss out on all the closeness of cosleeping/breastfeeding etc. Dr Sears is very clear on the fact that attachment parenting can lead to mother burn out and encourages parents to find a balance that works for THEM. I think ppl are either reading his books wrong or maybe his books just stike a raw nerve because they are just too true!

  6. January 12th, 2010 | 12:24 am

    I love the term “Post Sears Traumatic Disorder”.

    Thank you for calling a spade a spade, and also for your refreshing take on Rosin’s article. I am so tired of only seeing criticism for it. It came out when my son was 4 months old and was the first time I didn’t feel completely alone regarding my failed breastfeeding attempts. It inspired me to dig deeper and make a backlash against breastfeeding guilt a personal battle (although as a journalist, I was not a fan of the sensational title. I think the point of the article itself got lost in the extreme reaction to the headline, actually).

    I just want to say that your tagline is blessedly accurate – sound advice in crazy times, indeed – and thank you profusely for this site!

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