Date

4-30-2020

Description

Women in France have some of the lowest breastfeeding rates among high-income countries in Europe. The World Health Organization encourages new mothers to breastfeed for up to two years, and globally around 60 percent of women are still breastfeeding at this point. However, only 63 percent of French mothers ever start breastfeeding, and typically stop after just 17 weeks. These numbers are perplexing because they are significantly lower than the breastfeeding rates among other high-income countries such as the US at 74.4 percent and the UK at 81 percent. After researching the debate surrounding breastfeeding in France it became clear that there are many factors at play in addition to the country's GDP. The competence of working French mothers is questioned when they return to work too soon, use formula, or stop breastfeeding. However, mothers who do stay home and breastfeed for the recommended amount of time are accused of being antifeminist and hindering the movement. This is a multifaceted controversy in which French mothers are challenging the compatibility of motherhood and feminism. My goal is to explore how social stigmas surrounding motherhood and breastfeeding in France affect the rates at which French mothers breastfeed. The question of feminism's compatibility with motherhood is a potentially universal debate, only brought to light by France's unique breastfeeding trends. The data begs the question, are France's low breastfeeding rates a result of French feminist movements and the push for women to remain autonomous throughout motherhood, or are there other factors affecting this issue.

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Apr 30th, 12:00 AM

Breastfeeding and Feminism in France

Women in France have some of the lowest breastfeeding rates among high-income countries in Europe. The World Health Organization encourages new mothers to breastfeed for up to two years, and globally around 60 percent of women are still breastfeeding at this point. However, only 63 percent of French mothers ever start breastfeeding, and typically stop after just 17 weeks. These numbers are perplexing because they are significantly lower than the breastfeeding rates among other high-income countries such as the US at 74.4 percent and the UK at 81 percent. After researching the debate surrounding breastfeeding in France it became clear that there are many factors at play in addition to the country's GDP. The competence of working French mothers is questioned when they return to work too soon, use formula, or stop breastfeeding. However, mothers who do stay home and breastfeed for the recommended amount of time are accused of being antifeminist and hindering the movement. This is a multifaceted controversy in which French mothers are challenging the compatibility of motherhood and feminism. My goal is to explore how social stigmas surrounding motherhood and breastfeeding in France affect the rates at which French mothers breastfeed. The question of feminism's compatibility with motherhood is a potentially universal debate, only brought to light by France's unique breastfeeding trends. The data begs the question, are France's low breastfeeding rates a result of French feminist movements and the push for women to remain autonomous throughout motherhood, or are there other factors affecting this issue.