Friday, December 08, 2006

Heroic Boobies

You California readers have already heard about this story, no doubt. It's about a fellow SF technology writer and his family getting stranded in the snow in Oregon. Most of the coverage -- understandably -- has focused on the father's heroic and ultimately fatal efforts to save his family.

But way down at the bottom, the story says that the mom, stranded in the car for nine days with a 4-year-old and a 7-month-old, kept both daughters alive by breastfeeding them.

I'm reminded of when Nutmeg was an infant back in San Francisco, when I kept a few formula samples around just in case our family was somehow separated in the event of an earthquake. But this story shows that breastfeeding is the ultimate in emergency preparedness for moms. As long as you can get some kind of water into your body -- this family was surrounded by snow -- you can provide food for your children. I thought about this during Hurricane Katrina, too -- to me the most heart-rending of all the pleas for help were from moms who had run out of formula.

There are all kinds of downsides to the rarity of sustained breastfeeding in America. An overlooked one is that when we allow our built-in feeding system to shut down, any kind of inconvenience -- from a snowstorm to getting stuck on an airplane for 8 hours -- turns into a true emergency for an infant.

1 comment:

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