A Commentary by Hudson
Reprinted with permission from The StartGate Libraries
Continuing my discussions as to why it is so difficult to induce lactation without the aid of drugs like Domperidone.
In my last commentary, I discussed how both the conscious and subconscious thought process is critical to successfully producing enough milk to breastfeed through induced lactation. Our conscious thought process, (our conscious desires, and our ability to physically act on these desires), is based on sensory input from our five senses. We consciously act on what we see, hear, feel, etc. When a woman has a conscious desire to lactate and breastfeed, there is nothing in her conscious thought process that would prevent her from doing so. And being the case, the conscious thought process can be eliminated as an obstacle to inducing lactation and producing enough milk to breastfeed.
The conscious brain sends information based on desire, (the desire to lactate and breastfeed), to the mid-brain, (via the subconscious), to create the physical conditions in the body that will lead to adequate milk production. The lactation information stored in the mid-brain, (information as to how to create the physical conditions in the body that will lead to milk production), is genetic – – and as long as the brain, endocrine system and mammary glands have not been damaged by disease, trauma or surgery, this genetic information stored in the mid-brain is inalterable. When the mid-brain is triggered by the subconscious to produce milk, it will without fail, create the physical conditions in the body and mammary glands that will result in adequate milk flow. Because the lactation information stored in the mid-brain is genetic, (and inalterable), the mid-brain can also be eliminated as a possible obstacle to successfully inducing lactation. This is also true for women who are post-menopausal or post-hysterectomy, and have rebalanced their hormones with supplemental estrogen and/or progesterone. When physical stimulation of the breasts, and the hormonal levels are correct, (by whatever means), the mid-brain will stimulate the mammary glands to produce milk based on its own genetic programming without fail.
This leaves the subconscious thought process as the likely obstacle to producing one’s desired amount of milk when trying to breastfeed outside of pregnancy and childbirth. While psychologists claim to understand the subconscious thought process, we as individuals often have little understanding of our inner self; however, the one thing we do know about our subconscious is that it controls many of our physical actions and reactions. Remember the example I cited in my last essay: if a person on a whim should consciously decide to place their hand in a fire and burn themselves, their subconscious will prevent their body from acting on their conscious desire. No matter how much the person may want to consciously burn themselves, through the fear of pain, the subconscious will not allow the mid-brain to move the muscles in the hand and arm. There are many circumstances where the conscious mind, (conscious desire), cannot overcome the stubbornness of the subconscious mind.
Considering lactation and breastfeeding is a natural trait common to all women, and some women are able to easily induce lactation and breastfeed outside of pregnancy, why does the subconscious mind of some women tell their mid-brain to produce little or no milk when trying to induce lactation?
While the subconscious recognizes that it is normal for women in general to lactate and breastfeed outside of pregnancy, in our western culture, an individual woman’s subconscious is often programmed during childhood to believe that it is undesirable for her personally to lactate and breastfeed outside of pregnancy!
We want to believe we are who we are because this is who we want to be; however, we are who we are because of the social environment in which we grow to adulthood. In other words, while our personality does have some genetic traits, (inherited personality traits), we learn to be who we are from the world in which we will live as adults. For example: if you had grown up in a middle-eastern country, you would likely speak a different language, and see the world, (and your role in it), very differently. During childhood, we learn how to live in the society in which we will live as adults. This learning process defines much of our subconscious persona, (who we are). For example: Remember the women I referred to in a previous essay who grew up in New Guinea in 1935, who found it so easy to relactate and breastfeed a newborn because that was the world they learned to live in as a child. This learning process as a child became part of who they were as an adult. This childhood learning process is the same for us today.
In short, while you were taught as a child that it is possible for a woman to induce lactation and breastfeed outside of pregnancy, you were taught personally, that lactating and breastfeeding outside of pregnancy is not something you can or should do.
No doubt, you are skeptical, so I will continue.
In a previous essay, I said there was a specific date in history that molded our individual personality, that made us who we are today, regardless of whether or not, this is who we want to be. That date was 7 December 1941, the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor; the day that triggered our inevitable involvement in World War II.
You ask, “How could a single incident that occurred over 70 years ago, have molded us into the individuals we are today?”
In the 1960s, something happened that caused an abrupt change in the American culture. By 1970, American life was nothing like it was in the 1950s. I never understood what caused this change until I inherited some old VHS tapes, documentaries of World War II. I had never taken the time to review the tapes until recently, when I converted them into computer video files. After viewing the tapes, (and contemplating my own memories of growing up in the World War II era and the 1950s), it became clear as to why we are who we are today.
When World War II began, the United States was ill prepared for war. Military hardware was sparse and outdated, and military personnel, (what personnel there was), was not adequately trained to fight a war on this scale. This meant the United States had to raise and equip an army, not within years, but within weeks and months. Hundreds of thousands of men, (hundreds of thousands of men who worked in industry), were suddenly inducted into the military. This meant that industry was left ill equipped, (having a lack of workers), to produce the hardware necessary to fight a major war. The solution was that women would take the place of men in industry. For common good, (the defense of our country), women went to work in industry on a massive scale not seen in the history of our country.
We owe a debt of gratitude as much to the women who produced the military hardware during World War II, as we do the men who used this hardware to defend our country. They put their own personal lives on hold, and went to work. While the men who fought on the front lines lived in horror, life on the home front was not easy for the women either. Even though I was not much more than a toddler during the war, I still remember the fear and paranoia. If an airplane flew overhead, people would stop and look up to see if it was one of the ours, or one of theirs. And if a stranger came into the neighborhood, people would watch him and wonder, is he a spy? Since that time, there has not been such fear and paranoia in the American culture.
And after a long, often bloody struggle, the war was finally over, and the men came home. Hundreds of thousands of war weary men were brought home and released from the military. As happy as the country was to see the war come to an end, and the men return safely home, what occurred next was not foreseen by most on the home front. Suddenly, there was hundreds of thousands of unemployed men needing work – – and no jobs! The war was over and war materials were no longer needed. Industry had to retool to produce civilian goods. The solution to this massive unemployment problem was to lay off the women, and hire men in their place. Which is exactly what happened. Women were laid off, and men were hired in their place – – and culturally – – women were expected to settle down, get married, and start a family. And the social structure that would dominate the 1950s was born. Home and family values.
Most women were more than happy to get married and start a family. They were sick of living in fear, sick of being alone, sick of having to do without because of rationing. They wanted nothing more than to have a home and stability in their life. I say most women but not all! There was a significant number of women who resented losing their job, resented losing their independence. They felt cheated, forced into marriage. From my own experience growing up in the 1950s, (and I had never made the connection before viewing the VHS tapes), while most women in the 1950s taught their daughters virginity before marriage and family values after, I remember some mothers telling their daughters: “Don’t throw your life away like I did! – – Don’t be a slave to a man!”
Perhaps without thinking, and most probably unintentionally, these women instilled in the subconscious of their young daughters: Be Free! – – be your own person! – – you don’t have to get married – – and don’t ruin your life with kids – – all they do is tie you down. You can take birth control and have sex with whoever you want – – you don’t have to be dependent on a man – – and if you do have a baby, you don’t have to breastfeed it – – bottle feeding is better anyway – – and besides, having a kid sucking on you all day is disgusting! As harsh and irresponsible as this may sound to us, this is exactly what women who felt cheated out of their independence, (through their own anger and resentment), taught their young daughters as they grew up. And whatever their individual beliefs, the Baby Boomer generation was born.
By numbers, there were relatively few women who taught their daughters this resentment of home, marriage and family, but as these children reached adulthood in the 1960s, from Haight Ashbury in San Francisco, to Woodstock in New York, this social philosophy of personal freedom spread like wildfire, and became the mantra of a new generation of young adults. By 1970, the Hippie generation was born: Peace, Love, and a decided rejection of traditional values. From the mid-teen years to adulthood, children learn more from the world in which they will live as adults, than from their parents.
As children developing their own individual personality grow toward adulthood, they don’t just blindly except the previous generation’s social values; rather, children growing up learn to decide what they want in life based on their acceptance or rejection of the current social standards. By 1980, the hippie philosophy of peace and love had turned into sex and drugs, and often hippies were seen as a dirty, unkempt people whose lives were in shambles. The young generation that reached adulthood in 1980s, had largely rejected most of the hippie values. While the hippies were free and independent, they generally had nothing, and this new generation of adults wanted more.
Then in the late 1970s, an unexpected recession occurred, which oddly enough, gave young women economic opportunities. As markets cooled, and the cost of doing business rose, companies looked for ways to reduce the cost of salaries. They soon discovered women would do the same job as men, only cheaper. Job opportunities, coupled with their preference for college education, women went to work on a scale not seen since World War II. Women begin to compete with men, not only in the workplace, but socially as well. Women begun to see themselves as equal to men, and in many ways, begin to think like men. Even unisex dress became popular for a while. The 1980s became the “Me” generation. First coined by Irina Dunn in 1970, and later paraphrased by Gloria Steinem, the aphorism, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle”, became the mantra of this new generation of working women.
There is more to the social influence that made you who you are as a woman today, but this commentary is getting long, so I will bring it to a close here, and continue my thoughts in my next essay.
These social changes affected men as well as women; however, this series of commentaries is about why it is so difficult to induce lactation, and being the case, I focus primarily on the social changes that affected women. Whether lactation is the result of pregnancy and childbirth, or the result of having been induced, it is rooted in the maternal instinct. The maternal instinct in the mid-brain is genetic and inalterable, and to some extent, is genetically programmed into the subconscious. A woman can have the subconscious genetic desire to lactate and breastfeed, but may not have the *how to* programmed into her subconscious. While a woman may have the subconscious desire to breastfeed, her subconscious may not have the information to trigger the mid-brain. When it comes to inducing lactation, the how and when to lactate is apparently learned during childhood.
A woman’s personality, (as well as a man’s), is not the result of a single social/cultural event, or even a series of social/cultural events, but the overall social evolution of a culture. You have a difficult time inducing lactation because of how your subconscious believes you to be maternally.
With Regards, Hudson