Personal Views

Breast feeding and my brain

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.318.7182.545 (Published 20 February 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:545
  1. Mary E Black, foundation professor of public health
  1. North Queensland Clinical School, University of Queensland

    I've got my brain back. I have finally weaned the youngest, the hormones are almost back to prepregnancy levels, and there is a distinct feeling of the fog clearing after three and a half years.

    As a junior doctor, I had messianically and rather glibly extolled the virtues of breast feeding. When my own turn came, I found that the reality was indeed rewarding, but it proved to be an unexpectedly major undertaking. Never mind the cracked nipples, mastitis, and leaks—it was thesheer time involved. Over the past 40 months I have breast fed for around 3600 hours. That is an average of three hours a day (range one to six hours; case definition: time directly feeding and commuting time to get to baby during lunch breaks). This is the equivalent of a 40 month half time job if you adjust for a five day week and take into account holidays.

    Impassioned by how hard it was in practice …

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