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In North America and in many other westernized countries a woman's breasts are a taboo: they are supposed to be hidden. Exposing woman's breasts in public is considered shameful and inappropriate ("indecent exposure") even on beaches or while breastfeeding. In other words, breasts - or at least the nipple - are supposed to be covered at all times. Parents tend to teach their children the same way, and many times children don't see a single naturally nude breast (apart from their own) while growing up. It is totally possible that a child grows up in North America and never sees a baby breastfeeding! However, while exposing breasts in public is a “no-no”, children and young people often see breasts (although practically never the nipples) displayed in a sexually provocative fashion on television, on the Internet, and in magazines. Breasts are actually emphasized in the advertisements, which signals to our young people that breasts are a sexual object, and only beautiful when big and protruding. However, we know that the larger breasts in the media is often just a fallacy, since the models and actors use push-up bras and breast enlargement to artificially enhance the way their breasts look like. Besides that, the photographs are always airbrushed to look just "right". Just think: if young girls continually see this propaganda without a balancing view of natural naked breasts, it is no wonder they also start seriously worrying about the size and shape of their own breasts even to the point of suicide! And women do greatly worry about their breast size as proven by the huge amount of augmentation surgeries: according to American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, in 2006 383,336 women had a breast augmentation. The same year, cosmetic surgeries were up 446% from the year 1997. "Even at the age of 27, I have probably seen only 10 or 15 pairs of real breasts. Most of my knowledge about breasts comes from movies and magazines. But actresses use body doubles to give the illusion of a more "perfect" body, and photographs of models have been airbrushed to remove any "unsightly" bumps or discoloration. ... When girls as young as 12 talk about getting breast implants based on this standard, I say we have a serious problem. Three 14-year-old girls have told me separately that they need breast enlargement surgery, with nothing to base their body hatred on but a stolen copy of Playboy. ... How can we say that to view a woman's breasts will damage children, when it is so clear what not seeing them is doing?" Allison Roberts at TERA articles page
"I would say most women are not happy [with their breasts]. I took a bunch of slides of women's breasts, as part of a slide show I put together, and every single woman who took off her shirt for me, had something to say, "Like, my breasts used to be great, but now they're saggy." Or, "I bet I've got the smallest breasts you've ever seen." So, unfortunately, many of them are not happy. ... But you know, of the women I interviewed, the ones that were happiest with their breasts were the women while they were breastfeeding. They weren't thinking about, "Is it too small? Is it too big?" It's just doing something wonderful." Carolyn Latteier, the author of Breasts, The Women's Perspective on an American Obsession, in Berman & Berman's TV program "All about breasts", aired June 4, 2002 (transcript) .
Breast obsession and men
While nearly all US women are worried or even obsessed about their breast size and shape, some men have definite obsessions with female breasts are a source of sexual fantasy / turn-on. For these men, it is not just a general appreciation of the female figure or the various body parts, but a fetish, an extreme fixation or obsession. They get sexually inspired by looking at pictures with cleavage, where breasts are enticingly almost visible, yet hidden. While these men probably realize that this is happening, and feel they enjoy it, they are nevertheless "bound" by this behavior. The general breast taboo and the provocative visual images in the media greatly encourage men to view breasts as objects of sexual arousal and play. Men are actually being conditioned to see breasts as sexual - to them, breasts become almost like inanimate objects that automatically "click" their brains to the "turn-on" mode. This "obsession" is to be distinguished from a general appreciation of breasts for what they are (source of nourishment). Boys who were breast-fed as babies have a deep-seated "built-in" appreciation for a woman's breasts due to the child-mother relationship. This is NOT sexual in nature, nor arousing, but merely an instinctive appreciation towards breasts deep in one's psyche (soul). A comment we received in December 2006: "Yet I disagree that it is women who are most bound by the perversion of our culture. In truth I believe that we men equally suffer. The corrupted view of breasts is designed to make men more and more subject to the attacks of sexual ads and entertainment. This propels men to sexual indulgence and women to become more sexually enticing, in which both become morally destitute and often victims of criminal acts. Surely, our very genetics make more fit bodies appealing, but sexual obsession with nudity and particularly with breasts has been planned to spike our naturally tendencies into moneymaking impropriety." MT
The media images are screwed up. So who benefits from this total taboo of female breasts? That is not hard to answer: the pornographic industry can now earn good money by showing men bare breasts that they can not see elsewhere. And truly: if this taboo was any less, for example if topless sunbathing was widely accepted and practiced, everybody would know how female breasts looked like - and pornographic magazines would sell a whole lot less. Fortunately, not all men are obsessed in this manner. Please see below a comment we have received from a man with a healthy attitude: "...breasts are just one of the MANY things that compose a lady's physical appearance; and physical appearance is just one of the many things that influence my attraction to her. Physical appearance is important, but when I imagine the woman of my dreams, I think of a woman who is confident, loyal, and loves me with all her heart. Everything else is negotiable." Jason
European women commonly go topless on beaches, and many European countries also have nudist beaches where people sunbath naked, yet the atmosphere is decent and nonsexual, and people are at ease. The sauna culture in Finland makes people used to seeing nude bodies, and they don't view breasts as such a taboo. Primitive tribes in hot climates wear very little clothing and it is no big deal to them. Naturists from all over the world always emphasize how sexuality does not equal nudity; nudity is not sexually stimulating if the atmosphere and attitudes are non-sexual. In fact, seeing bare breasts on a topless beach is able to de-sensitize men's minds and take away the "breasts -> sexual stimulation" connection. Of course breasts are a female body part, and there is nothing wrong in considering them beautiful as part of a woman's body. But let's let breasts be like legs, hips, neck, face, and all the other body parts of a female - not lis some almost inanimate objects that automatically "click" men's brains' to the "turn on" mode. "Well, we do have a peculiar obsession with breasts in this culture. A lot of people think it's just the human nature to be fascinated with breasts but in many cultures, breasts aren't sexual at all. I interviewed a young anthropologist working with women in Mali, in a country in Africa where women go around with bare breasts. They're always feeding their babies. And when she told them that in our culture men are fascinated with breasts there was an instant of shock. The women burst out laughing. They laughed so hard, they fell on the floor. They said, "You mean, men act like babies?"
Carolyn Latteier, the author of Breasts, The Women's Perspective on an American Obsession, in a TV program "All about breasts"
Right after birth the baby is placed on Mommy's bare breast. It knows instinctively to latch on and starts sucking. Mommy's breast feels so good and soft!
During the following weeks, baby feeds very often, even several times during the same hour. Baby sleeps with Mom so it feels secure and Mom is able to watch baby closely and feed the baby easily. Mother and baby get used to breastfeeding and learn the right positions with the help of friends and other supportive people. Other women help the mother with breastfeeding problems if they arise. Baby and mother grow to love each other a lot and enjoy the closeness of breastfeeding. Breast gives baby comfort as well as food - and thereby baby grows well and is very happy. Baby does not need security blankets or pacifiers - it uses Mommy's soft and cuddly two breasts instead! Somewhere along the way solid foods are introduced, but baby continues to nurse, too. Even during the toddler years the little child nurses here and there, especially when going to sleep or during times of stress. Nursings get less and less, being only a few times a week. Finally the child weans itself willingly, without getting any emotional trauma from leaving its 'security blanket' behind. Sounds ideal... and it is, but in reality breastfeeding is not always this easy! Fortunately breastfeeding rates have slowly been increasing since the 1990s, but only 41.5 percent of US infants are still being breastfed at 6 months, as found by the immunization survey in 2006. And even though experts recommend exclusive
breastfeeding for 6 months, the same survey found that only 31% of mothers at 3 months and a mere 11% at 6 months were doing so. Shockingly, a careful study of statistics shows that 9,000 lives could be saved yearly in the USA by exclusive/extended breastfeeding! That is because breastfeeding infants have only 1/5th the rate of SIDS, and half the rate of the overall infant deaths.
Reasons why women fail to breastfeed or wean too early
(These are not in any particular order of importance.)
Bottle-feeding is perceived as the norm. People in the USA and many western cultures simply live in a bottle-feeding culture. It is very unusual to see a breastfeeding mother, and even more unusual to see a mother nursing a toddler or an older child - yet even World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for at least two years. Television, books, and media usually show a baby with a bottle, not a baby at its mother's breast. Little girls grow up perceiving formula-feeding as the norm. Mother thinks breastfeeding is yucky or indecent, or has 'hangups' about her own breasts. Breasts are to feed babies - if that was not so, why do breasts start making after mother gives birth (or tiny amounts even before)? There is nothing indecent about feeding your baby. Think about a cat mother feeding her kitties, or a dog feeding her puppies. Everybody just thinks that is cute and natural - the same is true for humans feeding their babies. "A comment we received in February 2006: Thank you for sharing photos of real breasts. I didn't breast feed my first 3 children because of my hangups and embarrassment over my very large breasts. While pregnant with my 4th baby this past year I came across this site and it helped me to accept my breasts, even love them! I now am the proud mama of a 2 month old who absolutely LOVES his mama's milk!!! And by openly nursing my odler children, both boys are learning that that breasts are for nourishing babies. Thank you so much for showing *reality*!!!! Beth Mother's past sexual abuse. One out of every five American women has been sexually abused during childhood, and it is estimated about 20% of those show significant symptoms as adults. There are wide reactions to past sexual abuse: some women who have been sexually abused cannot tolerate the thought of breastfeeding while others find breastfeeding as a healing experience. Especially difficult situations include: the early postpartum period with its high demands; night-time feedings since the night remind the mother of earlier abuse; and feeding an older infant who plays with the breast and smiles at it. These mothers may benefit from extra support of those around her or from mental
health professionals, from partial pumping/bottlefeeding, and from extra reassurance to know what is normal behavior by the baby and how to redirect baby's behavior. On the other hand, breastfeeding can actually reduce child abuse and abandonment by mothers./p> Husband or partner's negative opinions. Unfortunately many men think woman's breasts are sexual organs, so they can become jealous over the nursing mom's breasts, or start thinking that the baby is doing something indecent and pervert when it feeds. Breastfeeding is NOT a sexual act but simply a feeding act. It can be pleasurable to the mother (though also painful!), but it is not sensual pleasure, just a good feeling of being close to your baby. Unsupportive friends or family members. Since bottle feeding was the norm in the near past, often a new mom's own mother and other relatives know very little about breastfeeding or even have negative experiences, and cannot support her. In fact, she might hear all kinds of undermining comments from ignorant people who don't understand the breastfeeding process. If that happens, you can try to explain to them in a nice way what the facts are. Lack of knowledge of medical care personnel. Some doctors know very little about breastfeeding or know nothing about the dangers of infant formula, so won't really encourage the woman to breastfeed, or simply won't influence the mother in any direction. While there are many pediatricians and obstetricians who do strongly support and speak for breastfeeding, you cannot count your doctor being that way unless you choose who is going to be your doctor.
A majority of pediatricians believe that breastfeeding and formula-feeding are equally acceptable methods for feeding infants. Physicians and nurses in the U.S. routinely receive gifts, office supplies, meals, a year's supply of free infant formula for themselves or a relative and even pricey vacations from the infant-formula marketing representatives who haunt their offices. A doctor may even forcibly talk about weaning a toddler. Read this 'secret nursing' story of a woman whose doctor almost bullied her to wean (a popup window).
"Women also need to know about the very real 'risks' of bottle-feeding, including higher morbidity and mortality during childhood, higher rates of cancer and diabetes in adulthood, and poorer cognitive development." Katherine Dettwyler Problems in breastfeeding. These include sore nipples, milk supply problems, thrush, infections, etc. By far most of the breastfeeding problems are solvable with adequate information and support. One of the usual initial problems is sore nipples, or simply pain
while nursing. That is very common, and usually subsides after about one month. Just hang in there, make sure the positioning is right and baby has a good latch, and find support from someone or from internet message boards. It will get easier later and you'll be glad for your decision. Medical conditions. Certain medications that the mother may have to take are not compatible with breastfeeding. However, many medications are fine. Check Medications at Kellymom.com for more information. Mismanagement of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding works best when baby is put to the breast very soon after birth, and is allowed to feed as frequently as she wants - which is called 'cue feeding' or 'demand feeding'. Mother's milk supply is built up by the frequent feeding (which may mean every 30 minutes to every two hours), and this is important especially in the beginning. But wrong ideas about 'nursing schedules' still persist, based on bottle-fed babies' needs. Not feeding frequently can lead to low milk supply. Another pitfall is that many women don't understand the danger of supplemental formula in regards to the "demand=supply" principle of milk production. The more formula you give to your baby in addition to breast milk, the less milk your breasts produce. Formula companies know this, and that is why they are so eager to give you free samples from every direction. Difficulties with public breastfeeding. Even though breastfeeding in public is perfectly legal in the US in any place where the mother and baby would otherwise be allowed, women have had to leave swimming pools, supermarkets, restaurants, malls etc., or they have been told to nurse in the bathroom. Since breasts are perceived as 'sexual', it is often hard for women to be brave enough to breastfeed in public because they fear other people's attitudes about exposing their breasts. Because of the general attitudes American society has about breastfeeding and of breasts, many women won't feel totally free and at ease when nursing in public, but in reality most mothers, when they get over the initial fears, find that the general public doesn't pay that much attention to the act, for the most part. People can almost seem to avoid watching the nursing mother in order to not make her feel uncomfortable. In fact, if someone appears to be watching, it may very well be that the person is just plain curious to see this precious moment of mother nurturing her child. Selfishness. This is certainly NOT the case for all, but it can affect SOME mothers to choose bottlefeeding. We received the following comments: "Selfishness is the leading killer of breast feeding in my opinion. Woman were objectified for years, and when they started working more and more and shopping and staying single and becoming more and more independant, they became more and more selfish. ... Little Dick and Jane have become a commodity, they are just as important in these womans lives as their new guccibag or their BMW. ... I'm in no way saying that woman working is a bad thing; I'm not saying that wanting nice things is
awful either. Mothers should be selfless; mothers should put their kids above the things that money can buy." Kimberly Misconceptions about weaning. Many people in US think that breastfeeding is only for the first couple of months of an infant's life, or mostly up to year. Experts don't agree with this. World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding to 2 years of age, and American Academy of Pediatrics clearly states in their policy statement Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk, "Exclusive breastfeeding is ideal nutrition and sufficient to support optimal growth and development for approximately the first 6 months after birth." "It is recommended that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mutually desired." In many other cultures worldwide and in most of the history children weaned even much later. Comparing humans to our closest animal relatives, Katherine Dettwyler has estimated that the natural age of weaning in humans would be between 2.3 and 7 years. Many women in the world and even in today's America do let children self-wean, and those allowed to do so, usually wean between 2 and 5 years of age. The benefits of breastfeeding don't stop at any age. Many people think little children need to drink cow's milk - how much better it is when toddlers can get human milk with just the right nutrients for humans! Working. American society does not give mothers a long maternity leave or otherwise encourage mothers to stay at home so breastfeeding would be easier. Nor is it common to find facilities at the workplace for pumping, though this seems to be on the increase. So even though the best solution would of course be if women could stay home longer, you can still pump breastmilk while at work, and continue normal nursing when at home, or possibly arrange your baby to be brought to you at certain hours, if that is feasible. Breastfeeding doesn't have to end just because you return to work after maternity leave. One of the most influental reasons why women fail to breastfeed is because infant formula companies use the most aggressive and insinuative forms of advertising. Also, about half of all the infant formula used in the United States is purchased for poor women through the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).
From early pregnancy, mothers are bombarded by "friendly" formula companies who send free coupons and samples to expectant and new mothers. When signing up for baby clubs, mothers who are planning to breastfeed are placed on the target list of infant formula companies. Carefully mailed formula encouragers arrive before Baby's birth, in the take-home bag from the hospital and again when the baby is around 6 weeks old. In fact, formula manufacturers have no idea exactly how close their product is to breast milk because new ingredients and properties of breast milk are discovered every year. And even among those elements of human milk of which science is
already aware, today's infant formula still doesn't measure up. Breast milk contains hundreds of known ingredients and elements which have not been -- or cannot be -- added to infant formula at this time. ...virtually all hospitals in the United States offering maternity services -- as well as the majority of individual obstetricians and pediatricians -- continue to provide massive free advertising from the huge pharmaceutical companies that produce and market formula in the United States. Such promotional material comes in the form of formula giveaways, patient "educational literature" produced by the formula companies and even free baby equipment such as diaper bags.
A study published in 2003 by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force found that giving new mothers a pamphlet on breastfeeding as they leave hospital, is ineffective - and it recommended that mothers take classes instead. According to the study, mothers who take counseling programs are much more likely to try breastfeeding and continue for longer. Many mothers leave hospital with little more than a pamphlet informing them of the benefits of breastfeeding--and a gift packet from formula manufacturers with coupons and infant formula samples. Yet it has been found that those commercial gift packets decrease the change that a woman would breastfeed and reduce the duration of breastfeeding. The danger with supplementing breastfeeding with formula is that a mother's milk production is a supply=demand situation. So when she gives the baby some formula, her own milk production with diminish accordingly. Formula companies know that well, and that is the main reason for giving the free samples: once a mother gets started with formula, her milk supply starts going down, and it is soooo easy then to just keep giving more formula, more formula, etc. Now, it is certainly possible to also increase one's milk supply with the right measures mainly by nursing and pumping more and more often, which increases milk production. But new moms need to be aware of how breastfeeding works and how formula companies try to take advantage of them so they don't fall prey to this milk supply situation. Most all of these problems can be avoided if the mother has adequate support and is well-informed about breastfeeding! Though it is natural, breastfeeding success is not automatic. If you are pregnant and planning to breastfeed, study as much as you can, attend classes, and make a list of support people, lactation consultants, phone numbers, internet addresses etc. where you can find help should some breastfeeding problem emerge. Being informed and getting help from the professionals can help you to overcome the small, but common breastfeeding problems in the beginning. Breastfeeding does not have to be difficult! The greatest obstacle for breastfeeding is misinformation and lack of support.
... if women have encouragement from their culture, from their mom, their father, their girlfriends, their husband, they tend to breastfeed very successfully and very naturally. But in our culture, in spite of the fact that doctors promote it, it really isn't accepted. You know, women have been arrested for breastfeeding in public. They've been kicked out of malls for breastfeeding. I had a friend who, was opened her blouse to breastfeed her baby, and her father said, "That's disgusting," and walked out of the room. Carolyn Latteier in Berman & Berman's TV program "All about breasts".
Other people's comments
The following comments are from various visitors to www.007b.com. 007 Breasts is not necessarily endorsing everything written in the comments. The comments and opinions below belong to the commenters who made them. The comments are posted here because they might further help and encourage men and women who visit this website; however 007 Breasts is NOT responsible for the comments nor for any loss or damage caused by reading them. I am a young mom, I'm 19 with a 7 month old son. He's been breastfed since he was born. It's not only "young" moms who decide not to breastfeed. It can be much older moms too. serenity I have an interesting story, but probably common to more mothers than we know. I just gave birth to my first son in May. My mother formula-fed me much to her dismay, I was a C-section baby and the nurses gave me formula from the get-go and after trying desperately for two weeks for her milk to come down, she gave in to formula. My little sister was breastfed for six months, mandatory birth control to control her osteoporosis issues dried her up. Anyway, I knew I wanted to breastfeed for healthy reasons even though I felt strange about it. Even at first try, I still felt weird about it. Not knowing much about it, but having a good support group, I was vulnerable to poor advice from nurses and medical staff. When my son got bad jaundice, I was told to supplement WHILE my milk was coming in to clear it up. I think it messed up my supply. I was also told to get him on a schedule (as opposed to letting him feed on demand) and I think that also messed up my supply. After a week or so, my nipples were cracked and bleeding. I sat and nursed him through tears and severe pain because I was so determined. Turns out my son had a tongue tie which messed up his latch, which also effected my supply. So when I went back to work and had to pump for his next day's supply, I was not able to produce what he needed. I took every supplement known to man, including Reglan. No results. I contacted websites, parents, advocates, my wonderful lactation consultant... I could not produce enough milk for my baby. This was all during a period where I felt constricted by it, it was frustrating to me. I decided to stop at three months. When my son turned three months, I found myself completely in love with breastfeeding. I pushed the date to six months and thought I'd wean while introducing him to solids. After much research, I have decided not to put a time limit on my child - although I do have reserves about personally continuing passed toddlerhood. I have had a long hard struggle with breastfeeding, but sometimes inside of me kept me going - even with working full-time. Now I try to help others around me as much as I can, because I feel like we know so little about it that we are easily swayed or influenced by bad advice from medical staff. Aren't we supposed to turn to them for help? But I was lucky, my birthing center, pediatrician and lactation consultant were all very supportive. No one ever pushed me to use formula, except for the pediatrician on call who contacted me when I was seeking help for his jaundice. It's easy for everyone around you to influence you, and then you mess up your supply and think you don't
produce enough... and then most mothers think that's it, it'll just dry up - might as well make the switch. I think that might be a big reason why mothers don't think they produce enough. It's also easy to think that when all the babies around you are so fat they need cream for their creases, and my breastfed baby is on the small side... I thought for a long time that he wansn't getting enough. Turns out he is perfectly healthy. It pains me that he does get any formula at all, but I think for baby #2 I will definitely know what I am doing. If I ever have a daughter, I will be sure to share everything I can with her about it. Your site is most helpful. Thank you. Regina As a children's nurse, I've seen so many babies suffer through NEVER being breastfed and therefore lacking the vital antibodies (e.g. gastro-enterities ear infections) and even certain childhood cancers and juvenile diabetese (a devastating disease that can even blind a child) are less common in breast fed babies. Breast fed babies are very lucky, and all Mums should TRY to breast feed. It's all wrong that its O.K. to speak out about the dangers of smoking and the importance of vaccinations and healthy eating, but woe betide any poor soul who DARES speak out about the risks of formula - they are usually accused of "Guilt tripping" yet people don't have this attitude when it comes to other health advice Penny I am lucky enough to work at a company that has on site day care and my baby's caregiver can call me at my desk to let me know my baby is hungry. If I am able to leave my desk for a break, I can go feed him. If not, there is also a "mother's room" where moms can go pump. Of course, nothing beats staying at home with your new baby, but if you have to go back to work, situations like this make it so much easier! Tricia Father of Seven My wife and I joyfully have 7 children, every one of them were breast fed. My wife and I were both breastfed as were each of our siblings. My mother had 12 children, my wife's mother had three. She would have had more but her husband was upset she was pregnant again and tried to get her to abort, but she refused. I am thankful she refused else I would have had to settle with some one else. Wonder if father in Heaven would have sent me different children than what I have?? My wife, Glenna, and I have five daughters. Between the five of them there are 18 grandchildren. All were nursed by their mothers, our daughters, except two. One daughter was barren, had no children and therefore adopted two brand new babies who were subsequently bottle fed. Our last child #7 was bourn with Down syndrome, a son. We had a very difficult time teaching him to nurse and used the bottle with different nipples to find a way to get any milk (totally expressed at first) down him. For your information; at first we thought wow a child that let us sleep through the night with out getting us up two or three times. After the second time we decided because of his retardation he did not know he was hungry, so we routinely fed him around the clock to make sure he had a good chance to be healthy. I love kids and would gladly do it all over again and think that breast feeding is the only way to go if you possibly can, as much as possible. Go green nurse your babies. Oh and by the way my wifes breast are as full and firm as ever. The texture is naturally changing after all she is 71 years of age. Dr. George Boswell the BR-Dr.
My wife found it very difficult to breast feed after the birth of our daughter (who was born 3 months premature). We really struggled to coax even a tablespoon of milk from her breasts. She was put on a course of medication to increase her milk supply, but to no avail. Every day we sweated to get a small quantity of milk from her increasingly painful and eventually raw nipples. The nursing sister to which we were referred was unsupportive and scolded my wife, making pretty much the same comments as Kimberley quoted above, i.e. that she was selfish, and should be more devoted to her child, was a bad mother etc. The fact that before her difficult pregnancy she was an ambitious career woman, made things worse. My role as a father and husband was disregarded, and all responsibility and blame was ascribed to her. Her inability to produce vast quantities of milk was regarded as something pathological. After two visits we decided that we were not prepared to endure this constant lambasting and found someone else, who proved to be far more sympathetic to our plight. Under her guidance we decided to switch to feeding formula. I cannot describe the sense of relief that both of us felt. Of course, if my wife had been able to produce enough milk, she would have breast fed our daughter; but to blame her and castigate her for something which she had no control over was wrong. I still feel a sense of anger when I think back to how the majority of midwives and nursing sisters treated her. Our daughter, who is now 4 going on 5 is healthy, with no food allergies or illnesses and is significantly taller and more robust than many of her peers. I love my wife dearly and am extremely proud of her persistence. I am glad that I was able to be there for her. Eric I was very thankful for this website. When my middle daughter was released from the hospital I was forced to take a can of formula home even though I was breastfeeding and had no desire to use it. I was told it was hospital policy and they couldn't let the baby leave without some sort of "food source." I was breastfeeding, why wasn't that good enough? Regardless of their "good" intentions, the can of formula was never used. Unfortunately, I did not breastfeed my oldest daughter for more than four months because I was young and felt the pressures of the American culture and work make me feel uncomfortatble doing it. My youngest daughter was born in Asia and it was a wonderful experience because I did not feel stupid for breastfeeding her and did not have to leave the hospital with a can for formula at all. I said, "I'm breastfeeding." And they said okay. No questions asked. No being made to feel guilty. Now that I'm older and in a relationship with a guy who is Asian, it boggles his mind to think that Americans put so much sexual emphasis on breasts and he doesn't understand why. To him, breasts are for feeding children. It is a very refreshing point of view. Diane This web-site is wonderful! I plan to encourage my mother and in-laws to read it. I have two children ages one and three. They are twenty-two months apart. My son nursed for sixteen months and did not wean until I was three months pregnant. I was prepared to nurse him for as long as he wanted no matter what. My inlaws thought I should wean him when he cut his first tooth! My mother on the other hand was a bit more supportive, although she is embrassed by my nursing in public. My husband, my rock, he is my biggest supporter of all. He says to **** with all of them! We do what is best for our family and nothing beats nursing. Once again thank you for the information on this site. It really helps to keep me focused on the well-being of my nursing child and not the uneasiness of others towards breastfeeding. Michelle Hi, I have three children. I have nursed all three for at least a year; and one was nursed for 18 months. I would have liked to nurse the middle child longer than 18 months because she was ill; and breast milk is supposed to be an almost "magical formula," helping build immunity, etc. However, I stopped nursing because nobody in my family nursed; and everyone made fun of me for nursing for so long. My youngest is now 2 1/2 and I miss the connection that one feels when breastfeeding. It is amazing to me that a woman's body is able to "grow" another human being that started from 2 cells. And then that same woman's body is
able to support her child. I was always amazed and proud when I would see my babies growing into healthy toddlers and that the reason they were growing and gaining weight was because I was supporting all their needs. I think it is a wonderful thing. But, since I have breastfed three children for so long, and since I am 36 years old, I have felt discouraged by my sagging breasts. I was glad to see the breast site where women showed their breasts. I have learned that mine aren't all that bad... they are actually pretty nice, especially when you consider all that they have accomplished. Jill I love this site and I am so glad it is out there. I did not feed my daughter because I felt weird because breasts were so sexual. Now that I had my 2nd and last child I am breast feeding and sad that I didn't with my daughter. I too had a dr. that told me he was too old to still be nursing at 9 months because he had teeth and "What are teeth for?" he asked me sarcastically. I stopped going to him. Anyway, I keep it a secret from my new dr as well just to avoid that. My son is 3 1/2 and nurses as soon as I get home from work and at night. I enjoy our quiet time of just him and I. My husband is making a fuss to hurry and wean him because it is "disgusting" that he still nurses. We are confined to the bedroom for this. I am going to make him read everything in this site twice so he can see that I am not weird and that our son will stop when he is ready not before like I decided when I first decided to breast feed. Kim Hi, I am a 18 year old mother who choose to breastfeed my daughter. We had a rough start, she came into this world 6 weeks earlier then was expected when I got hit by a car crossing the street (I was in the crosswalk may I add) and I would just like to thank you for your website. It encouraged me to continue to breastfeed even though she was only eating from one breast. I am currently fixing the problem and plan to breastfeed till she is 2. I would also like to let young moms know that its okay to breastfeed, it's the best thing for your little one. It starts out rough and painful, but it gets better as they get older! Don't be afraid or ashamed, it’s a completely natural thing to do. Melissa Wow! What an amazing site! The best thing I got out of all this was to truly appreciate my breastfeeding as a solution to every problem my babies have. I sometimes feel like "Wow, can he ever get enough?" Can't he just go to sleep without my boob?" But now I realize my breast is so comforting to him and it is like a miracle cure to his needs, including hunger, teething, pain, tiredness and more I'm sure. This is so good for me to realize because now I feel more willing to offer my breast in comfort to my baby and to be happy that I have the answer. Thank you very much! Ann I am a nursing mother of an 18 month old. I am saddened at the thought to fully wean and my baby is not ready either. He easily takes a cup throughout the day but there comes a point where nothing but the breast will do. He laughs, smiles, and squeals in delight as he climbs into my lap and assumes nursing position. He does this no more than twice a day and only when we are at home. My family and friends were supportive of my breastfeeding for the first year but now everyone says "When are you going to stop nursing that boy?" It is turning me into a closet nurser because I am becoming embarassed to be nursing a child of his age! Jo Please remember that there are some babies who never latch correctly. I went to 4 lactation consultants with no success. I pump 8 times a day and only get 200-300 ml. So I HAVE TO supplement with formula. I have good support and am very knowledgable regarding how to increase my supply, but my body is just not
responding adequately. I get frustrated that so many breastfeeding websites try to make you feel guilty for not breastfeeding exclusively. I even had a male pediatrician try to make me feel guilty without finding out why I pump and use formula. I wish that more websites would educate on the fact that breastfeeding does not work for everyone and sometimes supplementing with formula is inevitable. My son cannot survive on 2 bottles of breastmilk a day. Thanks! Julie I was 18 years old when I had my first child,and I was far from knowing the resposibility that motherhood had in store for me. What I did know was that breastfeeding was something that I wanted to try, despite all of the negative comments that my young friends had to offer, and I am so happy that I did not listen to them. I am 27 years old now, have 3 children... 2 who breastfed until they were 2 years old and the 3rd one is 9 months old and still breastfeeding. My 2 older children are now 7 and 9 and extremely healthy and smart...(Sometimes a little to smart!!) I try to recommend breastfeeding to everyone I know, but unfortunatley not all people think it is that great. I guess I should be considered lucky for having such a pleasant experience with my angels!!This site is a great one, keep up the excellent work! nicole I'm 23, never been pregnant, never breastfed, but I do know that when I have children, I will. I know that in this society, women's breasts are thought of as sexual, I look at my own and try and figure out "Why?" To me, they're just lumps of flesh, fat, and glands that are used to feed babies. I grew up around women that had no problem breastfeeding in public. My young aunt would breast feed in front of myself (I was 7/8 at the time) and my mother without covering up like it was the most natural thing in the world, which it is. My older sister did the same thing around my mother and myself when I was a lot older also without covering up. I've even been around the wife of one of my friends when she was nursing and she would do it with a room full of people, all she did was throw a rag over her and the baby and all would be fine. And most of the people in the room were males in the late teens and early 20's. She would even pump her milk and put it in bottles when she left me to babysit and would even mix the breast milk in with his cereal. He was an exclusivly breast milk baby until he was a year old. I even know that my mom has no problems with breast feeding and would have done it exclusivly herself if one of her nipples wasn't inverted, making it impossible and painful to nurse with that breast. I love how this site provides the information that all mothers need to make an informed decision about breast feeding, and if the info isn't here, then they post a site where it can be found. Jenn I love this site - I am nursing my 12 month old daughter and several people at work are telling me that I need to wean her - and making me feel like I am doing something wrong. My daughter just loves when I come home from work - she nurses and just looks into my eyes and I don't even have to say a word - I can read her eyes - and she melts my worries away - something like that can't be wrong! Laura As more women successfully breastfeed their children those women can become role models and teachers for other women who wish to breastfeed. Perhaps we can counter the bottle culture and help all women (even working mothers) realize that breastfeeding is the best way to nurture a child. I am still breastfeeding my 22-month-old daughter, and I see no end in sight. I'm going to let her decide when to quit. However, I also understand the other side. I breastfed my oldest son, now 10, for only 4 weeks. The reason I quit--lack of knowledge and also the pain. I didn't realize that the pain lessens and the joy increases. I don't want to be preachy with women, but I'd love to get the message out. Kathy T.
I am a breast feeding mother of a 6 month old baby. I love the bond that I have with my wee girl. I think the great support I receive from my partner has helped to shrug off all the negative comments from other family members and society in general. Many seem to think that because I feed exclusively breast milk that I'll be one of 'those' that feeds their baby till they are at school... But whatever I choose do to - what is it to them anyway? For those mums who are struggling with newborn feeding - trust your breasts. 97% of breasts work. And just when you think they can't possibly produce any more milk because Baby has been at them all day - whaddya know! They still make milk. The more that breast feeding is supported, the less the government will need to spend on sickly children who didn't get the chance to get the best nutrition possible. jo mcgregor When my baby boy (not my oldest he's nearly 6) got sick with a cold and started throwing up some quack at my HMO's urgent care told me to stop breastfeeding for a week! He said "it might be the breastmilk, he may not be able to tolerate it, this is often the case" What a load of garbage! Well, I tried "not to" for "my baby's sake" for all of 4 hours. I called my old pediatrician (from before the nasty insurance change) and they said "under no circumstances stop, breastfeeding will HELP the child not HARM him." It was 4 hours of hell until that point, though (at his age). Never again! Always double check your doctor! They aren't God, you know! Charlene I nursed my second child for 18 months. At 4 months she stopped gaining weight. It was 1996, my pediatrician accused me of trying to starve her. She had terrible colic, and was up all night for months on end. After 5 different pediatricians, I decided to eliminate certain foods. When I gave up pizza, cheese, oranges, and tomatoes, she started to thrive again. The doctors made me crazy. Advice; don't give up. My child would spit the formula in my face. She would chew a bottle nipple and choke on the pumped milk. None of the doctors thought I was telling the truth because I was so young. Today, she is healthy. An allergist tested her blood and her IGE was positive for food allergies. The same food that made her sick when she was breastfed. Doctors should listen to mothers more, breastfeeding has been done since the beginning of our species. I think women need more support from peditricians who are too quick to blame breastfeeding on digestive and wieght gain problems. teresa I breastfed my son for 10 months. Exclusively for six. I couldn't believe all the people including my family that spent so much energy trying to get me to stop. I was working and pumping after 3 months and if I had any complaint (no matter the subject) everyone would blame the breastfeeding. I realize now that their negative comments only made it easier to keep going because I wanted to prove them wrong. Sure enough my son is two now and has never been sick and we have a wonderful relationship. I plan on breatfeeding my second for two years. Sincerely, janne Excellent information. Thank you! I am a chiropractor in Philadelphia and routinely share this information with patients. My wife and I have 4 children, who have all been breast fed. We had some problems with our first... she had so-called "colic" and projectile vomiting with breast feeding. We suffered with the problem for about 3 months when we read information regarding cow-milk proteins (such as casein) being passed from mother to baby. To make a long story short, my wife gave up dairy and the "colic" was cured. Our babies have all pleasantly nursed since. Thanks again for the great site!
Ken Goldman Our American society is geared towards seeing women as emotionally fragile, sexually charged entities (notice I didn't say individuals). We see this mentality evolve more and more in fashion. As a teacher (and a fairly young one), I am amazed at how many high schoolers are wearing low-low rise jeans and how many thirteen-year old girls are displaying their thong underwear. Girls are getting push-up bras in middle school, and there is not as much disgust with this trend as there should be. As a society, everyone needs to work towards awareness. This means breastfeeding in public and giving an informational pamphlet to anyone who complains. This also means talking to your children about sexual realities. We can't let our children grow up thinking that bodies are supposed to look cartoonisly perfect. It is so important that parents realize the benefits of breastfeeding far outweigh convenience and occasional unwanted confrontation. Your baby's health is priority number one! Anne I was 17 when I got pregnant with my first baby, 18 when he was born. All of my friends thought I was crazy for deciding to breastfeed. Many young women choose not to nurse because they feel they won't be able to go out and have fun with their friends. I agree that it does tie you to your baby more, but that's a good thing! A new baby needs their mommy! But I just took him everywhere I went. Nursing in public took some getting used to, but I was proud of the choice I had made, and wasn't going to let anyone make me feel ashamed or awkward. I have three kids now and have nursed for 5.5 of the last 9 years. I slept with each of my babies and was able to just roll over and feed them if they woke up. I NEVER had the all night horror stories that I hear from other parents. I loved breastfeeding my kids and I am so glad you have this site to encourage others. I would like to see the mood reversed in this country when it comes to subject. Those mothers that can nurse and choose not to are the ones who should be feeling ashamed! By the way I am a low income person who did have other kids to take care of and did have to back to work. You need to have a better excuse than that to rob your baby of the vital benefits of nursing. Thank You! Jennifer I totally agree with Karen Dettwyler that the natural human nursing period is up to 7 years. I am a Medical Anthropologist and have come to this conclusion based upon the nursing period of other mammals, compared to the timing of sexual maturation. Mothers in Western society have a unique opportunity to provide our offspring with "the best of both worlds." We have: controlled many infectious diseases, good nutrition available year round, access to medical care, AND the opportunity to nurse through the toddler years. We need to create a new cultural image for nursing moms! Evelyn Christner I'm so sick of hearing about how an infant's risk of developing cancer or diabetes is greater if they are not breastfed. Maybe some people just don't have the time to breastfeed because they have other children to take care of or they have to return to work. It's just wrong to say that a child could die from not being breastfed. Sharon Those statements are just 'cold scientific facts', but of course it is wrong to throw those facts blamingly at a mother who could not breastfeed. And it is good to remember that a person's cancer or diabetes risk also depends a lot on the diet they are fed after weaning, and on the amount of exercise, chemicals they are exposed to, etc. Having been breastfed is just ONE factor among many.
In other kind of societies (especially in the past) mothers didn't have to go to work outside home. Even today, in Nordic countries mothers get a long maternity leave. So it's the laws of the land and customs in the society that make breastfeeding difficult, and one shouldn't blame the mother for that. I think your site brings up a fantastic point - breasts have lost their true meaning in America. A woman can be kicked out of a McDonald's for breastfeeding her baby, yet men can walk right into a strip club and have naked breasts shook right in their face? I find that totally disgusting. What a backwards society we truly live in. So many women hate their breasts and are afraid to breastfeed because men have made them into nothing more than mere sex toys, and they want to keep it that way. Meanwhile we (and babies) suffer. Unfortunately, I was not able to breastfeed. Most of it was a physical problem, but I think some of it had to do with discomfort around exposing my breasts. I think its sad. In all the breastfeeding education I went through, there were plenty of facts about the mechanics of breastfeeding, but no counsel on how to kick that "taboo" image of breasts. It's taboo to use them for their real purpose!!!!! It needs to stop! Sara I agree completely with the above "Weaning story". I'm a man 25 years old. My mom breastfeeded me 1-2 times only. She had a lot of milk and she felt uncomfortable. So her doctor gave her a medicine to reduce the amount of milk. But the result was to stop the milk! I was shocked when I learned about this and I started to search information about how bad is for babies not to breastfeed. I was surprised when I read the "Weaning story"! This "story" is completely true! I am an insecure person with low confidence and fears. I want so bad someone to hug me and feel warm and safe but of course I never ask for this cause I'm not a baby! I have this psycological trauma. I understood why I've always loved and have the curiosity about this part of the female body. I grew up with the breastfeeding feeling remains unsatisfied. I must say here that this is not have to do with sexual feelings about breasts. People (women or men) that weren't breastfed I think they can understand me. It's something serious to me. I feel very sad and I don't know if there is anything to do to solve this emotional problem. Stratos Applause, applause. I enjoyed your site immensely. I am (already) a breastfeeding advocate (tandem nursing mom of a 3 1/2 yr. old and an 18 mos. old). I plan to eventually visit high schools to give talks on breastfeeding and would like to consider using some of your information as a "lesson plan." Thank you. Susan Dickerson
So what is it about the breast that makes North Americans so obsessed with them as sexual objects? In the course of history many different parts of the female body have been fetishes for men, for example ankles, necks, and tiny feet (in China), so why breast obsession in our age? It seems to be linked to the fact breasts are viewed so strongly as sexual body parts, and not seen as baby feeders. In fact, Americans are about to forget the natural function of the breasts. In the fall of 1993, one of the undergraduate students in my 'Women and Culture' course was totally flabbergasted to discover that the biological function of women's breasts was for feeding children. With obvious shock and disgust evident in her
voice she asked, 'You mean women's breasts are like a cow's udder?' That a young woman could reach college without ever having even heard of women using their breasts to feed their children is a sad commentary on American culture. Katherine Dettweyler as quoted in The Breastfeeding Action Committee of Edmonton (BACE) report about Breastfeeding at Municipal Pools in Canada If we can see breasts as the wonderful means God created to feed and comfort babies, then the obsessions men have about them can disappear; and importantly, women don't have to obsessively worry about the size and shape of their breasts. This obsession HURTS women and men in various ways that are not always obvious. For example, a woman may need to go braless because of her breast health's sake, which results in men ogling over her, making comments, and considering her only on a sexual level (see comment by Chris below). "It is inappropriate to take the very Western cultural idea that breasts are sexual organs and turn it into a "Law of Nature," applicable to all people, at all times. It is inappropriate to let the very Western cultural idea that breasts are for men overshadow their primary biological function for feeding children, just as it was inappropriate for people in Chinese society to let the cultural idea that deformed feet were sexually stimulating overshadow their primary biological function for walking. Women and children are harmed by Western beliefs about breasts, both directly and indirectly, both physically and emotionally." Katherine Dettwyler in The Cultural Context of Breastfeeding in the United States But why does the American society view breasts primarily as sexual objects and not as baby feeders? Carolyn Latteier voiced it out this way in Berman & Berman's TV program "All about breasts":
"Well, I think it is partly to do with the fact that we don't breastfeed very much. I mean, breastfeeding rates have improved, but most women don't breastfeed very much or very long or in public. So when we see a breast, we don't say, "Oh there are those magical milk-making things."
(see transcript) Let's see how that might come about.
Bottle feeding story
Baby is fed from the bottle, so he doesn't get to know Mom's breast as a food source and as the best pacifier. Also, if Mom never undresses or uncovers her bosom in front of her child, the child never gets to see breasts. Parents, society, TV, and media show breasts to be something forbidden, something to be covered, yet exciting and sexual, preferably large and upright, and the child easily ends up believing that way, as well.
But what if the baby is breastfed?, you might say. After all, most women do breastfeed their babies at least in the hospital. But they don't do it for very long! Let's imagine what happens in the weaning process.
Baby is breast fed in the beginning. But, maybe Mom has problems with breastfeeding, can't find help, and has to start a supplemental bottle. This reduces her milk supply, and soon the baby is weaned. Or maybe Mom goes to work at six weeks and weans the baby completely at this point (she could, however, continue nursing in the evening and morning). So, for whatever reason, Mom weans the baby early on. But just because Mom quits nursing doesn't mean the baby wants to. The attachment and love for Mommy's breasts doesn't go away just like that. The baby loses its best source of food, yes, but it also loses one of its sources of comfort and security. The babe is probably feeling along the lines, "Hey, don't take those away from me! Those soft sponges belong to me! You can't do that! Hey, nobody here cares about my feelings! Please Mommy....." This kind of early and forced weaning can hurt the baby emotionally. Deep inside he retains this feeling of wanting the breast. The baby still likes Mommy's breasts. He/she is still interested in Mommy's bosom and wants to touch it, cuddle the breast, feel close — and get the yummy milk (remember breast milk tastes a lot sweeter than formula). You can see this when weaned toddlers and babies are still interested in breasts and want to touch them. Unfortunately, many times the mother feels uneasy about it and maybe thinks it is indecent or perverted behavior. The father may feel the same and fear that his child (especially his son) is going to grow up to be some kind of pervert. But that is not true! Little children don't think sexual things! Then the mother tries to get her child to stop this "nipple twiddling" and breast cuddling. The child is probably taught that touching naked breasts is BAD, it is a "NO-NO". Now, if the mother never lets her children see bare breasts, it is no wonder that the child develops a curiosity towards breasts. The child stars thinking, "What is it about them? Wonder what they look like? Why do they keep them hidden?" While the child is growing up, everything around her touts that breasts are forbidden, a taboo. We know that taboos just encourage curiosity. On top of that, the media presents breasts not only as forbidden but something exciting and sexual, which starts arousing sexual feelings especially in boys. Girls at least get to see their own breasts and often times Mom's too, which lessens this curiosity/excitement factor. So, what started as innocent curiosity and love towards Mommy's breasts can be turned into sexual feelings in boys, whereas young girls start (often obsessively) worrying about
the sexual attractiveness of their breasts. They worry about their breast size and shape, nipple size and shape, stretch marks, sagginess — about every aspect of their breasts, and quite often start wishing for breast implants, assuming that breasts need to be big to be attractive.
It all starts when you take the breast away from the child AND then make seeing breasts a forbidden no-no for the rest of the child's growing period. The end result is a distorted view of female breasts.
So what should you do if your already weaned child wants to touch mom's breasts and is very curious about them? Here's what to do: explain in the child's level of understanding what those pieces of flesh are for. Explain to him/her: "These are the milk bottles you drank from as a tiny baby. They are called breasts." Or, "These are like milk bottles. Milk comes out of them when babies suckle and they're called breasts." Show the child a few photos of nursing (from the Internet, for example). Give him/her a biology lesson (on her terms)! The WORST thing to do is to make a big fuss, to declare breasts a no-no and something totally forbidden (taboo). It's simple enough to tell the child what they are, and do so in a no-nonsense style, just sort of "no big deal", normal type of thing. That should satisfy the child's curiosity. After a while, such curiosity will probably pass and something else will take its place... just don't make it any big deal. But IF the child keeps wanting to touch and cuddle for a long time, you can explain that "These are the milk bottles but they are my body parts and you don't have to touch me here all the time." You can offer a reason such as "...the nipple is so sensitive." But first make sure you've given the explanations.
The less women breastfeed, the less people get to see the real purpose of breasts. At the same time media everywhere touts the view of female breasts as sexual. That in turn makes it harder for women to breastfeed, since many of the reasons for not breastfeeding are linked to the sexualization of breasts. So the less women breastfeed, the harder it becomes for women to breastfeed. We have a cycle that self-promotes the view that the main purpose of female breasts is for something else than feeding babies! The cure?
First, let children be breastfed. Then, let older children and teenagers see breastfeeding moms and their babies. Let them learn about breasts and breastfeeding. Let them see breasts used for their purpose. Don't make it a taboo, a forbidden no-no.
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