Since the 1970s, breastfeeding has inspired battles among moms, doctors, and parenting experts. Ward's study is the first to
examine La Leche League, the chief organization advocating breastfeeding, as
a religious movement arising within--and outside--traditional feminism.
The League's founders were all Catholic, and imbued with 1950s theology about the Catholic family (specifically, that breastfeeding was a female embodiment of Aquinas's natural law theory, and that the Virgin Mary represented an icon of motherhood). Although the League drew on scientific information about infant nutrition, it "held a religious rather than secular view of the family"--sharing the Catholic church's belief that children were central to married life. Ward, a former League leader, balances her sympathy for many League teachings with trenchant and dispassionate observations about the theological underpinnings of the movement. A provocative read for anyone interested in
the "breastfeeding wars" would find it.