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Breastfeeding in literature

(34 Posts)
teff Tue 09-Sep-08 17:49:22

Can anyone think of any fiction that includes descriptions of breastfeeding? I recently read a story by Helen Simpson which had a lovely passage about nursing. The only other examples I can think of are a Maupassant story where a women breastfeeds a starving soldier and a sci-fi(?) story where a woman poisons someone using her breast milk. These aren't really the kind of thing I'm looking for; I'd like to read about breastfeeding as a normal part of life.


bundle Tue 09-Sep-08 18:12:01

really crap (imo) book but there are refs to to breastfeeding in Something Might Happen by Julie Myerson

Sputnik Tue 09-Sep-08 18:16:29

They don't crop up very often, do they. One I can think of is in Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle (Quicksilver I think) where the heroine (single mother and seventeenth-century entrepreneur), breastfeeds during a business meeting!

Mungarra Tue 09-Sep-08 18:47:58

At the end of Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, a woman breastfeeds a starving old man.

In Mother's Milk by Edward St Aubyn, the narrator is a man who feels excluded by his wife's breastfeeding.

Now that you've pointed it out, I can't think of any nice descriptions of a woman just breastfeeding a baby.

foxytocin Tue 09-Sep-08 18:50:37

Google dr jack newman, breastfeeding quotes. you will get tonnes of references and quotes.

Madlentileater Tue 09-Sep-08 18:50:45

there's a nice bit in one of Hardy's books, where the mum feeds the baby in church....can't give you any more detail though. In Woman on the Edge of Time, in one of the futures, men too can breastfeed and the woman from our time isn't happy that they now have that privelege (kind of)

midnightexpress Tue 09-Sep-08 18:57:18

Not exactly 'literature' but in the Katie Morag books for kids by Mairi Hedderwick Katie Morag's mum has her norks out bfing the baby every other page in the pics - tis very lovely.

BellaBear Tue 09-Sep-08 18:58:38

In I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, the mother is described as 'nursing Thomas' (the little brother) by Cassandra

Madlentileater Tue 09-Sep-08 19:01:27

Lady Macbeth mentions it, but not in a nice way!!!

Madlentileater Tue 09-Sep-08 19:02:53

Then there's Juliet and her Nurse (they seem to have a good relationship)

princessglitter Tue 09-Sep-08 19:02:59

In Romeo and Juliet the nurse says how she fed Juliet till she was three.

PrettyCandles Tue 09-Sep-08 19:10:13

In The Thorn Bird there's a bit where the dad takes all the boys out of the train compartment so that the mum can feed the baby, but Meggie has to stay behind because she's a girl. IIRC she has mixed feelings about the way she is included in the adult world of women by default, but excluded from her brothers' world, despite them all still being children.

supercollider Tue 09-Sep-08 19:11:12

Beloved by Toni Morrison - it's harrowing stuff though, be warned.

teff Wed 10-Sep-08 07:14:31

That's quite a collection of quotes by Jack Newman. I can't help wondering if the writers breastfed or saw their own children nursing. Maybe this is irrelevant and I should really be thinking about how far breastfeeding is visible/hidden in a society.

I'd forgotten about Beloved. I'd be very surprised if Morrison hadn't breastfeed her own children.

naturelover Wed 10-Sep-08 09:32:21

In Property by Valerie Martin, a white slave owner latches on and drinks the breastmilk of her slave. Very strange book!

Cies Wed 10-Sep-08 09:34:30

Not really literature, but in The Time Traveller´s wife Clare bfs her baby daughter. And she complains that her nipples hurt.

WhatSheSaid Wed 10-Sep-08 09:43:08

The Backward Shadow by Lynne Reid Banks (sequel to The L-Shaped Room) has lovely passages about main character bfing her baby in her garden and how connected to her baby she feels etc. Written in the 60's.

MutantSpaceGoat Wed 10-Sep-08 09:45:54

Goodnight Mr Tom has a lovely bit in it.

MutantSpaceGoat Wed 10-Sep-08 09:51:03

macbeth has references to it but not in a good way.

Smittals Wed 10-Sep-08 10:09:22

There's a reference in Lark Rise to Candleford I think about a woman bfing in church, something about her breast hanging like a heather bell and then covering it with a hanky for modesty. But literally only a sentence about it.

Ellbell Wed 10-Sep-08 10:21:45

There's a beautiful simile in Dante's Paradiso where the heavenly souls rising up towards the Virgin Mary are compared to a bf baby holding out its arms to its mother after feeding.

E come fantolin che 'nver la mamma
tende le braccia, poi che 'l latte prese,
per l'animo che 'nfin di fuor s'infiamma;
ciascun di quei candori in su si stese
con la sua cima, si che l'alto affetto
ch'elli avieno a Maria mi fu palese.

(A baby, suckling, once it's full of milk,
will hold its arms out wide towards its mum
to make known outwardly its inner flame.
So, at their incandescent peaks, these gleams
stretched up. And this, to me, made clear what depths
of heartfelt love they bore towards Maria.

(Kirkpatrick trans.)

BellaBear Wed 10-Sep-08 11:10:07

WhatSheSaid - it's a lovely bit, isn't it? About bfing the baby while lying down outside, and it starts to rain and the baby is first surprised and comes off but then goes back to feeding with light rain falling on them

BellaBear Wed 10-Sep-08 11:10:46

This is a lovely thread, thanks for starting it

morethanasong Wed 10-Sep-08 14:19:17

Probably not literature - ok, definitely not literature - but in Shopaholic and Baby the main character breastfeeds her baby and her best friend breastfeeds twins grin

WhatSheSaid Wed 10-Sep-08 21:57:24

BellaBear, yes it is lovely, I just looked it up again as I was recalling it from memory before, there's a description of the baby making "anxious goldfish faces" when she stops feeding him because of the rain and then when she starts feeding him again he "closed his eyes in his customary bliss".

The preceding novel (L-Shaped Room) has a good description of birth too, about retreating into your own world during labour etc. And she is quite funny swearing at the nurse/midwife who is trying to get her to have drugs (gas and air, I suppose) right before the birth.

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