Is Breastfeeding Revolutionary?

[ 0 ] May 31, 2012 |

Beyoncé and others receive criticism for breastfeeding in public; Healthy Child Healthy World’s Rachel Sarnoff on activist support

I remember the first time I saw someone breastfeed. I was 27 and had just gotten married; one of my best friends had her baby the same year. We all sat around marveling at this amazing little being she had created and when he started to fuss, she fed him. It was miraculous.

Related: Breastfeeding Doll — Good or Bad Idea for Girls? (POLL)

A year later, I had my own baby to feed and I remembered what she told me: Put your baby on your breast the minute he is born. Even if there’s nothing coming out, keep doing it until there is.

I was lucky to have that advice, and to be able to successfully feed my son until he was a year old, and my daughters until they were each six months. I breastfed everywhere—at the market, in the park, sitting on a mall bench, even at Disneyland—without incident. Which is why it’s surprising to me how much fuss is being raised over breastfeeding today.

Related: Breast Is Best? Breastfeeding Helps Kids Behave Better, Study Finds

After Beyoncé discretely fed seven-week-old Blue Ivy in a New York restaurant, she was enthusiastically supported by breastfeeding activists, who noted that the simple act might change cultural perceptions. According to the CDC, breastfeeding is embraced by 74% of white mothers and only 54% of black mothers, despite organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics recommending the practice for a minimum of six months.

But Beyoncé was also widely criticized by media such as “The View’s” Joy Behar, who said, “I would think twice if I were that big a star, drawing attention to myself.”

Related: Breastfeeding and Formula Can Go Hand-in-Hand, Guilt Free

Rachel Sarnoff

Public opinion seems to be leaning in the anti-breastfeeding direction. In Georgia, a mother of four was forced out of church for breastfeeding—which her pastor compared to a “stripper performing,” according to the Huffington Post.

A Washington D.C. mother was accused of “indecent exposure” for breastfeeding her four-month-old in a public building, according to the Washington Post. (She also happens to be a lawyer, and after confirming that she was protected by the Child’s Right to Nurse Human Rights Amendment Act of 2007, filed a complaint with the D.C. Office of Human Rights.)

Related: Breastfeeding Mom Ordered Off Bus; What do You Think? (POLL)

And despite the fact that 45 states have similar laws protecting a woman’s right to nurse, reports of similar cases keep popping up, inspiring “lactivists” to stage “nurse-ins,” such as those reportedly held at more than 200 Target stores in late December.

Do you have to be an activist to breastfeed? What’s your experience? Leave a comment and let us know what you think!

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Category: Parenting, Relationships

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About Rachel Sarnoff: Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff blogs as, founded, appeared on “Today” and “CNN,” is the former Executive Director of Healthy Child Healthy World & was Editor-in-Chief of Children magazine—before she had kids. She lives in [...]
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