Pumping culture

In the New Yorker, Jill Lepore writes about the pervasiveness of breast pumps. A few quotes that I found interesting:

Today, breast pumps are such a ubiquitous personal accessory that they’re more like cell phones than like catheters. Last July, Stephen Colbert hooked up to a breast pump on “The Colbert Report.” In August, the Republican Vice-Presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, told People that she has often found herself having to “put down the BlackBerries and pick up the breast pump.”

The traffic in pumps is brisk, although accurate sales figures are hard to come by, not least because many people buy the top-of-the-line models secondhand. (Manufacturers argue that if you wouldn’t buy a used toothbrush you shouldn’t buy a used breast pump, but a toothbrush doesn’t cost three hundred dollars.)

Pumping is no fun—whether it’s more boring or more lonesome I find hard to say—but it has recently become so common that even some women who are home with their babies all day long express their milk and feed it in a bottle. Behind closed doors, the nation begins to look like a giant human dairy farm.


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