The Book

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A worldwide search for answers about the first, most fundamental experience of newborn life.

Since the rise of artificial infant formula, we have turned a biological process into a never-ending controversy: A mother breastfeeding her three-year-old son on the cover of Time magazine sets off a firestorm. Facebook takes down photos of women nursing, citing the content as “offensive.” Even the pope weighs in, urging mothers to nurse their children in church or elsewhere “without thinking twice.”

So how did we get here? What are the consequences of surrendering eons of human evolution for a mode of feeding so alien? Growing up, journalist Jennifer Grayson thought nothing of the fact that she was exclusively formula-fed. But when she became a mother, Grayson began to think about the true impact of missing out on this profound connection. Her book documents her worldwide search for answers about the first, most fundamental experience of newborn life.

From biblical times to eighteenth-century France, from modern-day Mongolia to inner-city Los Angeles— UNLATCHED uncovers astonishing historical, cultural, industrial, political, and technological factors at the heart of our contemporary breastfeeding disconnection.

UNLATCHED is a deeply engaging, highly personal, well researched, and thoughtfully balanced account of how modern society has denormalized breastfeeding. Jennifer Grayson does not expect every mother to follow her example and breastfeed babies for three or four years. Instead, she asks us to consider how formula feeding became the norm and how government policies perpetuate it as the norm (see especially the stunning chapter on the Women, Infants, and Children program). She argues compellingly that our challenge as a society is to restore breastfeeding as the default for feeding babies, and to provide the support—political as well as emotional—that mothers need to breastfeed successfully.” –Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University and author of, among other books, What to Eat

UNLATCHED is an intelligent, often funny, deftly written page-turner. Honestly, I’m surprised at how enthusiastically I find myself recommending a book about breastfeeding. Perfect not just for new parents, but for anyone who loves a good read.” –Anne Hathaway

“I’m hearing more and more that the root of much evil in our bad health is formula-feeding instead of breastfeeding, and with terrific investigative chops Jennifer Grayson nails the most insidious part of this: the government’s role in hocking formula to the most vulnerable among us.” –Michael Moss, Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter and New York Times bestselling author of Salt, Sugar, Fat

“Grayson’s book beautifully explains how we got to the breastfeeding brouhaha that exists in America today. This book is recommended reading for anyone who has breasts or loves them.” –Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein, filmmakers of The Business of Being Born

“Why can American women expose their breasts to sell magazines, cars, and beer, but not publicly nurse their children? It is a sad fact of our hypersexualized world that we’ve become squeamish about what Jennifer Grayson reminds us is not merely “natural” but a biological process as pivotal to our health and well-being as birthing, eating, or sleeping. It is time for an unflinching look at the breastfeeding obstacles women face in our society and in UNLATCHED, we have it. This is a must-read book for every mother and mother-to-be.” –Alyssa Milano

“Insanely well researched…Must read!” –Casey Wilson

“Provocative.” –USA Today

“Fascinating and illuminating.” –Self

“The book is filled with astounding bits of information…an inspiring read.” –Psychology Today

UNLATCHED is a great read, whether you breastfeed or formula feed.” –BabyCenter

“Grayson is an accomplished writer whose own story is woven throughout her careful research. Her global perspective is a welcome addition to this important debate. Unequivocally recommended.” –Library Journal

“Grayson thoroughly explored the real issues in this book. [UNLATCHED] is inspiring, well researched and beautifully written.” –MomsRising

“Persuasive arguments backed by scientific research that clearly demonstrate the benefits of breastfeeding for as long as possible.” –Kirkus Reviews

“In UNLATCHED, Jennifer Grayson beautifully weaves together a fascinating personal memoir with a revealing account of the little-known cultural history of breastfeeding. Connecting the dots between women’s health, women’s work, and public policy, Grayson sheds new light on the origins of America’s breastfeeding controversies and points to a way beyond the mommy wars. As a mother, I would recommend this book to all new parents-to-be for its practical advice and moving meditations on parenting. But this is not just a book for parents. Anyone who cares about women’s well-being and rights in twenty-first-century America should read UNLATCHED.” –Nancy L. Cohen, historian and author of Breakthrough: The Making of America’s First Woman President

“Grayson’s personal journey into the world of breastfeeding is fresh, accessible, and infused with humor—a must read for anyone embarking on the path to parenthood.” –Dana Ben-Ari, filmmaker, Breastmilk

“As an Ob-Gyn I have been guilty of speaking to new mothers about the benefits of breastfeeding instead of warning them of the risks of not breastfeeding. UNLATCHED is an essential book, not only for every parent to-be, but for physicians as well. It is not controversial that breast-fed babies are less likely to be obese adults, and less likely to have immunologic and other medical problems. Jennifer Grayson asks all the right questions, and it is clear that we must stop letting politics, money, and societal expectations trump good science.” –Dr. Lauren Streicher, renowned women’s health expert, clinical associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, and author of Sex Rx: Hormones, Health, and Your Best Sex Ever

“It’s no longer one size fits all when it comes to feeding our kids, so education is absolutely key. UNLATCHED is a fascinating story about the history of breastfeeding and baby formula and how moms have been caught in the middle.” –Robyn O’Brien, bestselling author, food industry analyst and mother of four