What is wrong with this picture?
There is nothing wrong with this picture. The mother in this Renoir
painting is simply feeding her child in a normal manner, as mothers
have for millions of years. Why, then, is a woman nursing her child
in public an unusual -- even shocking -- sight in most of the industrialized
world? Public breastfeeding so offends against deeply-imbedded
cultural misunderstandings about breasts and breastfeeding that
some jurisdiction have had to enact laws
protecting public breastfeeding.
- She is nursing out in the open.
- She is not carefully hiding her breast while she nurses.
- That baby is much too big to be nursed.
- All of the above.
- None of the above.
In addition, the health consequences of
the choice between human milk and formula are far from common knowledge,
so there appears to be no excuse for using a breast to feed a baby
when a bottle of formula would be "just as good." This misconception
leads many (including many in the medical professions) to dismiss
the importance of breastfeeding and to regard the advocacy of breastfeeding
as "trying to make mothers feel guilty."
With the culture so hostile to breastfeeding, it is no surprise
that breastfeeding rates are low. For example, barely half of all
babies in the U.S. receive even a taste of their mothers' milk,
and breastfeeding rates in the rest of the industrialized world
are -- with a few notable exceptions -- equally dismal or worse.
Of those babies that nurse at all, only a small fraction are exclusively
breastfed for the recommended six months. The percentage of babies
who continue to receive human milk as a part of their diet through
the recommended age of two years is miniscule.
This web site advocates a change in our culture, to an acceptance
of breastfeeding as the normal way to feed babies. To accomplish
this change, I propose that public policies and media messages be
- provide parents with sufficient data to make a truly informed
choice about whether or not formula feeding is in the best interests
of their children,
- normalize and de-sexualize the experience of breastfeeding
so that it does not need to be hidden from public view any more
than bottle-feeding is,
- support a woman's choice to breastfeed her baby, whether she
returns to the paid work-force or not,
- encourage parents to allow their children to wean themselves
without imposing artificial and unnecessary barriers to breastfeeding
past the first months of life.
Help with Breastfeeding
The Breastfeeding Advocacy