The Misconceptions & Stigma of Breastfeeding
Ashley Wright| Breastfeeding Advocate
Adulting

The Misconceptions & Stigma of Breastfeeding

One of the most human traits is the art of survival.

Self-preservation is embedded in our DNA yet one will find some uneasy about the topic of breastfeeding. A mother feeding her infant is a sight many are still very squeamish about in 2018. 

I thought we were progressive now and braving this big bad world?

Contrary to general conceptions, breastfeeding is an acquired skill just as much as it is a natural act of love between mother and child. Dare we not forget it is the healthiest form of food an infant can have. The World Health Organization encourages mothers to breastfeed until a child is at least two years of age. Yet one in some countries like France one finds only 19% of children get their mother’s milk until the age of six months.

Historically, women were convinced by society that breastfeeding was low and heavily frowned upon. White women during the time of slavery used their nursing negro slaves to feed their young. Doctors during these days were paid to give negative reports on breastfeeding for women, an act they were sure to regret when slave babies grew strong and white babies died. This turn of events led to the forcing of Negro mothers to feed their owner’s children. White mothers used this practice as a way to avoid breastfeeding in a bid to maintain their figures.

In today’s world, women such as photographer Gina Brocker are grabbing the bull by the horns. Brocker being a mother herself has taken it upon herself to use her photographs to fight the stigma against breastfeeding. The mother of two takes photographs of mothers’ breastfeeding at home, work and many other venues. The point of the project is to empower women and normalize the practice in society.

“It became such a big part of my life, and I wanted to start exploring that through photography,” said Brocker.

Women are taking the matter into their own hands, it didn’t matter so much to Brocker until she herself was a mother.

“We’re doing it wrong,”said Jennifer Aist, Director of the Maternity Outpatient Clinic at Providence Alaska Medical Center.

With 20years experience as a lactation consultant, Aist is pushing to promote breastfeeding, shifting the focus of what is wrong with mothers who stop breastfeeding to the crime of a society that makes breastfeeding hard.

You hear reports of women being harassed in public places like restaurants and parks for breastfeeding. What is a mother to do? Stay at home and avoid the world? Babies need to feed every few hours and if one is in public, what she to do when her child is hungry?

In this sophisticated day and age, it is disappointing when trivial issues such as these get people noticeably uncomfortable for no just reason. Efforts are being made however to make life easier for breastfeeding mothers such as mobilizing women to eliminate the structural constraints of breastfeeding, making it possible for them to see it as a right rather than a choice amongst other means stated by  Malka Main in a pro-breastfeeding article. 

What’s your take on public breastfeeding?

Watch this interesting Public Social experiment by Joey Salads for some insight. 

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