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.

  7 Replies to “Creating a Breastfeeding Culture”

  1. Mika
    August 7, 2010 at 11:41 am

    I saw women breastfeeding regularly when I was growing up. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a rural setting?

    • August 8, 2010 at 3:01 pm

      Maybe. Although the Mister said he saw women breastfeeding too (and was breastfed himself) so it never seemed like that big of a deal to him either – and he didn’t grow up in the country.

  2. August 7, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    Yay breastfeeding!

  3. August 7, 2010 at 10:05 pm
    • August 8, 2010 at 4:14 pm

      That IS a great blog post! Thanks for sharing.

  4. August 7, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    I love that passage, which is no surprise as I love Ina May Gaskin. I clearly need to read that book, as I haven’t yet, though I have read others that she’s written.

    I don’t think that we need to become judgmental or impose our views on others. But I do think that if we want to see breastfeeding rates increase, we need a breastfeeding culture. We need breastfeeding to be accepted and visible, and not hidden and viewed with suspicion.

  5. jil
    August 9, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    melanie- thanks for commenting on my post! I love your blog. good luck with baby girl 2. we have two girls too, and love it!

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