Breastfeeding has been around as long as humans have. Before the invention of formula, it was how all children were fed. If a mother could not produce milk for her infant, a wet nurse was used. A wet nurse is someone who breastfeeds a child that is not her own. The use of a wet nurse can be seen all throughout history. Infants were also fed animals milk if a wet nurse was not available. (“A History of Infant Feeding.” The Journal of Perinatal Education 18.2 (2009)) In 1865, Justus von Liebig patented an infant food (Radbill, 1981). It was first sold as a liquid and then as a powdered form. The use of artificial formula grew when many infants died during the summer months. People did not understand that the animal milk would spoil if left in bottles. When research showed that formula could be used as a breast milk alternative, and not spoil, companies advertised to physicians. In the late 1970’s breastfeeding started to decline. 1n 1988, formula companies advertised directly to the public. In the 20th century 90% of mothers breastfed their infants: only 42% breastfeed in the 21st century (Gaynor, 2003; Wright, 2007).
Research shows the benefits to both mother and child when the mother breastfeeds. Study shows that breast milk lowers the risk of stomach viruses, lower respiratory illnesses, ear infections, and meningitis. When they do occur they are often less severe. Breastfeeding an infant can reduce the risk of certain childhood cancers. Along with protecting the baby throughout childhood, breast milk will help in the later stages of life. It can help an adult who was breastfeed avoid type 1 and 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and inflammatory bowel disease (Katherine Harmon, Scientific American, 2010). For every 12 months a mother breastfeeds, her risk of breast cancer drops 4.3%
This has caused a great debate among people, whether or not breastfeeding in public is acceptable. It has led to mothers being kicked out of restaurants and stores. Some people have even yelled profanities at mothers who are breastfeeding in public. Breastfeeding, even while in public, is natural, good for mother and baby, and is easier than making a bottle. Mothers should be able to breastfeed their child in public, with or without a cover. America has over sexualized a woman’s breast. A woman’s breast is meant to feed her child. It’s not supposed to be something that is meant to be sexual. People are often worried that you are going to see something other than the skin. It’s really no different than going to the beach and someone wearing a revealing swimsuit. When watching television there are always women in revealing tops, showing just as much skin as a mother who breastfeeds her child. A majority of rated R movies show a woman with no top on. This is making female breasts a sexual thing. It is showing people that breasts are meant to be about sex, and not about feeding an infant. Continuing the idea that breasts are for sexual pleasure is going to continue to cause problems for a breastfeeding mother. Most infants have to eat every 2 hours. Unlike older children and adults, an infant cannot wait to eat. Research shows the benefits of breast milk over formula. There is significate health benefits for both mother and child when the mother breastfeeds. Why is it people are okay with seeing babies drink formula from a baby bottle, but not the way nature intended for them to eat? Many people state that breastfeeding in public is considered indecent exposure, because part of the breast may be seen, but 29 states, Washington DC, and the Virgin Islands exempt breastfeeding mothers from indecency laws. Forty-six states, Washington DC and the Virgin Islands have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public or a private location. People have stated that breastfeeding mothers should have to go to a bathroom stall to feed their child. Who would want to eat their meal in a bathroom? Virginia allows women