Creating a Breastfeeding Culture

I mentioned a couple of posts back that I recently discovered that Ina May Gaskin has recently published a book on breastfeeding (Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding). I plan/hope to do a review of the entire book soon (I’m almost done) but I wanted to share a bit with you:

If only one way of infant feeding is permitted to be shown on television, mind in the moviesm and on social networking sites on the Internet, web that way of feeding, becomes something like a monopoly. If women are made to feel anxious about their breasts or ashamed of them, breastfeeding becomes a less likely option for them. Needed information about this way of feeding is effectively blocked in the public media on the false basis of “modesty.” The choice for many is narrowed to which brand of infant formula to buy and what kind of bottle to put it in. Consider, for instance, how the symbol of the bottle has become the metaphor for infant feeding in the public media of cartoons, magazines, children’s books,a nd movies; there is little federal effort to counter the impression that bottle-feeding of artifical milks is better, more reliable, and more socially acceptable than breastfeeding for a human infant.

From Chapter 16: Creating a Breastfeeding Culture

Gaskin doesn’t get preachy in her book and I’m not going to either but this passage really stood out for me because I don’t ever seeing a woman breastfeed her baby when I was growing up. I remember babysitting babies and heating up bottles – but I think I was in my mid-20’s before I saw anyone nursing a baby. I know my own Mum’s experience in the late 60’s and my sister’s experience in the late 80’s that there was NO support around them for that sort of thing. But the image of the bottle representing feeding your baby really stuck out to me – it is so rare in our North American culture that we see “feeding” represented by a mother and baby. Even a book I was reading to Moira lately had the baby being bottle fed.

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