Breastfeeding has become a controversial topic in recent years. The range of conversation has touched topics such as, when a woman should breastfeed, should a woman breastfeed in public or even more controversial should women drink and breastfeed. I personally do not have kids yet and I am in no position to tell women how and what to do with their lives, nor will I ever be. But let's really dive into some of these topics and analyse how they became so controversial.
Let’s start with the history of breastfeeding, for years breastfeeding has been the main option but not the only option. According to BBC magazine’s article “Breastfeeding: Was there ever a golden age?”, there has always been an alternative option for mothers. Especially those who could not produce milk naturally. Other options in history included methods such as having a wet nurse or makeshift bottles filled with animal milk.
Formula and bottle feeding became more popular when women began entering the workforce. Although that isn’t the only reason a woman would choose to formula feed it did and still plays a big factor in how women provide nutrition to their young ones. Currently, the UK has low breastfeeding rates meaning new mothers look into other nutritional means of feeding (totally fine! Your body, your choice). Amy Brown of Swansea University, stated at the British Science Festival that mothers are not given enough support to them to breastfeed. She says experts put more pressure on women to get their babies on a feeding regimen. This routine includes babies staying asleep through the night, advice that is contradicting to a breastfeeding schedule because you have to feed the baby regularly.
Women has also been shamed for breastfeeding in public. Beginning in the 20th century in America it was implied that breastfeeding was distasteful and backwards. However, breastfeeding also known as chest feeding has become the more popular form of nourishing children. Recently the U.S. has made it legal to breastfeed. This begs the question as to why a law was needed to allow women to decide when, where, and how to feed their child. A testament to how long the fight against body control of women and much further we have to fight, another topic for another article. This law came after a law allowing women to legally walk around topless (in 6 states), stemming from the #freethenipple movement. The cause was fighting for women to have the right to make decisions about their own body without harassment or judgement.
Why are women bodies and their decisions up for debate? When will the world stop sexualising women and demonising them for their decisions? Including breastfeeding their babies in public, a necessity to provide for their children.
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