Lepore does an excellent job of examining the issues surrounding the breast pump from placing it in the history of breastfeeding (Victorian women poo-poohed the breast for the new baby bottles), reviewing the legal aspects, and of course, giving us all these wonderful new terms:
expressed human milk (milk pumped, squeezed, or sucked out of a breast by hand or by a machine)
feeding human milk (not to be confused with breast feeding)
human milk bank (who knew? the Human Milk Banking Association of North America?)
mamma ex machina
Moreover, she really brings to the table the many challenges, questions, and conflicts women face in feeding their babies today. Some arising from the conflict between the breast and the pump, many absurd. Like this one:
The University of Minnesota provides nursing employees a room to pump their milk. Within the privacy of the Expression Connection, women may hook up to the pump but they are not permitted to actually breastfeed their babies.
She asks tough questions too. Is taking 3 twenty-minute pump breaks better than leaving work an hour earlier, and thus spending an extra hour with baby? Should we be focusing more on giving women more time with baby (via family leave policies) than on bestowing breast pumps and lactaction rooms on employees? Do the supposed benefits of breastfeeding come from the milk itself (e.g., fatty acids?) or the act of sucking from a breast (e.g., skin contact, mother-infant bonding).
Hard questions, these. None of which we have solid answers for at the moment. Some of which can only be answered by individuals, each woman making the decision for herself, which is best for her and her child and her family. Let's face it - it's a new frontier, this expression of breast milk, breast milk in the work place, on the air plane, in the Internet auction. Best we keep an open mind if only to the absurdities of this new phenomenon..