World Breastfeeding Week is an annual celebration that takes place in more than 120 countries across the globe. Why? You may have heard about the controversy surrounding breastfeeding. Some people feel very strongly that it is not a socially acceptable practice. Others are in favor of it and are trying to foster an attitude of acceptance.
Why not examine both sides of the argument? Then, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about whether or not you’d like to support this cause.
“You Shouldn’t Be Doing That”
A good percentage of the people who are against breastfeeding simply do not feel that it’s appropriate in a public setting. They consider this to be an activity best left at home. Why?
Exposure. For the most part, in American culture, a woman’s breasts are considered private body parts. Therefore, many people consider it a form of indecent exposure. Some feel that breastfeeding in public with a cover is acceptable, while others are against it entirely.
Intimacy. Nursing is a physically and emotionally intimate act between a mother and her child. They feel this should be kept personal and private, not necessarily because it’s morally wrong, but because it can make others uncomfortable.
Danger. In public, it’s hard to know who’s around and watching. In other words, there’s the potential to attract inappropriate attention, possibly even putting mother and baby at risk of an attack.
Necessity. Many have argued that nursing in public is unnecessary. Yes, the baby still has to eat while out and about but not directly from mom. These individuals feel that it’s a more respectful option to prepare a bottle or two of breastmilk using a pump.
While even some moms may feel more comfortable with this option, many have found that the pump doesn’t work for them. They may not be able to extract enough milk, the baby may refuse to drink from a bottle and so on. That leads to the question: Are there more and better arguments in support of breastfeeding?
“It’s My Right to Decide”
In response to the arguments above, many moms have commented along these lines:
- “Nursing is completely natural.”
- “If someone is uncomfortable, they can look away.”
- “If someone wants to stare, so be it.”
- “Using a breast pump is not an option for me because…”
What are some other common reasons for the avid support of breastfeeding?
Health benefits for the child. When breastfed for at least the first six months of life, babies are fortified for years to come. Their risk of contracting infections and illnesses such as childhood leukemia greatly decrease. In adulthood, they are less likely to become obese or develop diabetes, heart disease and the like.
Health benefits for the mother. This may be a bit of a surprise, but breastfeeding actually has several benefits for moms as well. They are very similar to the advantages for babies. It lowers the risk for heart disease, obesity and osteoporosis, as well as breast and ovarian cancer.
Risks associated with formula. Formula, the common alternative to nursing naturally, is not the best for babies. After all, what could be more nourishing to a little one than milk specially formulated just for them?
Additionally, most formula is made from cow’s milk, in which bacteria may be present. While preparing formula at a high temperature usually works, why not eliminate the risk permanently, if possible?