I'm not sure what to say about this book. Badinter brings up important issues, but doesn't offer much in the way of viable answers. And some of the points she brings up are, well, kind of pointless. What on earth do painkillers or lack thereof for laboring mothers have to do with "the status of women"? I know, I know -- she's talking about "the naturalists" and how they're trying to turn all women into martyr-mamas. But some of us weren't embracing the ecstasy of pain when we made the decision not to have drugs during childbirth. In my own case, I was used to my body being mean to me, so the prospect of pain wasn't fun but it wasn't terrifying, either. And why pump a bunch of drugs I didn't need into my baby right after I spent nine months avoiding them? I found the prospect of having a needle in my spine more daunting than the pain of labor, so I yelled a lot and pushed out my kid. That's what worked for me. That makes me a traitor to the cause of feminism?
As for breastfeeding -- I think Badinter is right that it would be nice to see more reports about its health benefits. I was surprised to see plenty of perfectly respectable medical sites touting its advantages without linking to or mentioning any studies. So let's say for the sake of argument that formula feeding is absolutely as healthy as nursing -- it's certainly healthy *enough*, in places where contaminated water isn't a problem -- and that any small differences are more than outweighed by the advantage of the mother being able to get plenty of help with the crucial task of feeding, rather than having it all on her. What about those of us who nursed because we enjoyed it and it's cheap? And convenient? I actually liked just being able to "plug" my baby in without having to boil anything, and wean him right to the cup. Am I holding back progress for other women?
I had so many things I wanted to talk about regarding this book. I think I can sum it up right here by saying that Badinter, who is French, thinks there's something terribly wrong -- very *American*, heaven help us -- about the idea that a woman shouldn't get drunk while she's pregnant. Like, even one time. *Or smoke.* What, not even once in a while? Not even marijuana? Must a woman sacrifice every last bit of happiness and live like a nun in order to be considered a good mother? Bah!