Maternal Desire by Christina

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This is a comment from our friend Christina R. sent by email with regards to my previous entry. I put it as guest article because her comment is an article of itself. She responded to my article based on her reflection upon reading Maternal Desire by de Marneffe.

By Christina R.

I have to recommend a book I have been reading: Maternal Desire: on Children, love, and Inner Life by Daphne de Marneffe. She gets at exactly what you are talking about "the desires" to mother versus the sometimes feminist ideas and sometimes society. It is a great book!!! I have so many thoughts about what you have written and I am not sure I can get them all written down tonight.

In a way I feel strange not having had a child yet but writing about something I haven’t experienced yet. But breastfeeding and natural child birth are something I've grown up appreciating and knowing I want to be a part of- much of it just an intuition.

Breastfeeding is one of the most feminine things! It's food; all creatures do it. And I agree with the above post that some discretion makes sense but to me just the amount you would reserve for adult eating- just common courtesies. I grew up with parents that both thought natural childbirth and breastfeeding were wonderful. I have heard from my mother and now from friends that they, the mother, got so much out of breastfeeding. It became more about their need which in turn was also the child's need.

As you mention I have heard it can be difficult. I hope that it is not for me when it is my turn.

Most of the people I know breastfeed for awhile but then pump to return to work. The pumping seems strange to me as does returning to work with a 4 month old in day care! I'm glad both options exist but I hate that they are the norm in the US. Formula seems icky! Why all that trouble? Very few women don't return to work. I think there is a fear in our culture of not working even for women who financially don't need to. I see so many problems happening with the children and the exhausted mothers trying to work at an office 40 hours a week and be a mother. Many are small things that just seem confused when you have a day care staff raising your child.

Formula for a long time was marketed to low income women in the US. I am not sure of the history or why this happened but I know that it is true. My perception is that many low income women may still rely on formula but breastfeeding has a big movement in the US today- I think so I am surprised when I seen mothers giving their 3 month old formula!

I have sooooo many issues with the high caesarian rate in the US. It is really strange. Giving birth is really such a medical thing here and most people want a lot of drugs. True I haven't given birth, but when the time comes I plan to go natural. For me I look back at great-grandmothers and grandmothers and know that if they can do it, I'm sure I can. My mother had me and then my sister breech (butt first) with no drugs and lived to tell that it was hard but not that bad!

I have long complained about working being a woman trying to operate in this bizarre male world. So many things seem lopsided in the working society. And the terrible health care situation in this country! It is very backwards. Again reading this book about maternal desire really reinforced a lot of
what I feel so strongly about- mothers being with their kids and at home (not in some weird forced way, just home being a mom, maybe working a bit from home, but basically being with the child).


Hi christina! thanks for

Hi christina! thanks for commenting. To some extent i agree with your views. However in my previous writing, I further argued that reliance to formula is strongly influenced by the environment in which the women live. So that's why in the US formula usage is rampant, because 1. it has become the norm, and 2. the working environment not at all supportive to women's needs. The working 40 hours a week itself is not exactly the problem, I think, but working 40 hours in an environment with difficult access to breastfeeding facilities and your baby, IS difficult. If the working environment transforms into a place that is supportive to women, I think the situation will be different. In a nutshell, I don't think it is really the women's fault, to choose something outside the "natural", because in most cases, they don't have any other options beside diving into the male's world.

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