Monday, July 5, 2010

Breastfeeding is normal; bottlefeeding is unusual

The title of today's quick up-date sums up my feelings on breastfeeding quite well: breastfeeding is normal, the natural way to feed a child, the way we have evolved through centuries of natural selection to best nourish infants and for infants to be nourished. It is bottlefeeding with a milk-substitute formula that is unusual.

Besides the fact that formula does not compare nutritionally with breastmilk and often contains ingredients and quite often bacteria that are dangerous to developing infants, a bottle cannot possibly offer an infant the comfort of a mother's breast. The Baby Beast will sometimes walk up to me when he's crying, and want to bury his face against one of my breasts. While a part of me is laughing inwardly and thinking things like, "Lookit that, he's just like his daddy," a bigger part of me is aware that a 15-month-old has no concept of sex and is using my breasts for their intended purpose: nutrition and comfort.

All of this to say that this week is the Carnival of Nursing in Public, an effort on the part of nursing mothers to normalize breastfeeding. (For more on that topic, I will pass the mic over to Code Name: Mama since she summed it up so well)

So, if you happen to see a mother nursing in public, whether she's doing it furtively, trying to keep a huge blanket over herself and he infant, or doing it boldly, refusing to be shamed into covering up when she's perfectly capable of keeping her shirt on, please give her a smile. Let her know you aren't bothered by her responding to another human being's absolute need, like so many people out there seem to be.

The American obsession with breasts as sexual objects is not healthy... not for America, not for America's babies, and not for America's mothers. So if you're a nursing mother, nurse in public this week. If you aren't a nursing mother, then smile at one while she is nursing in public this week. The health of a nation may depend on it.


  1. Mothers breastfeeding babies is the most natural thing in nature. Babies are born knowing how to suckle and mothers are given the tools and equipment needed to allow them to suckle. When I see a mother breastfeeding in public I know first-hand the bond that mother and baby are forming, but when I see a mother who is breastfeeding in public and obviously very uncomfortable about it - I cringe. A breast is quite simply a tool to be used to feed a child no one should ever feel ashamed for giving their child the greatest gift available.

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  3. Such an important topic! I think that we've come along way for babies by helping this become a more normal and accepted thing. IT still shocks me whenever someone is harassed in public for nursing their baby.