Recently, we shared an article about Australian supermodel Nicole Trunfio’s gorgeous breastfeeding photograph that appeared on the cover of ELLE Australia.
The magazine and Trunfio have been applauded by breastfeeding advocates worldwide for assisting to dispel the shame that continues to surround breastfeeding in public in several parts of the world.
ELLE Australia showed how the media can play a pivotal role in normalising breastfeeding. Unfortunately, the media can play an equally big role in stigmatising breastfeeding — as demonstrated by the hosts of US based NBC’s “Today” on May 21 2015.
Kotb (left) and Gifford (right).
Image from Pinterest.
According to a Huffington Post report, “Today” hosts Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford discussed mums who share photographs of themselves breastfeeding on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, on the show’s “OK! Or Not OK” segment.
Gifford said (in cartoon form), “There are two types of people, Hoda — those who feel the need to share their most precious moments and those who’d like to keep it private like I prefer.” Kotb, in response said, “I say breastfeeding is beautiful and natural, but sharing it on social media: TMI.”
Mums across the US reacted to the “Today” segment.
Image from Aly Rosema’s Twitter account.
Reports say that these comments — Kotb’s “TMI” (too much information) statement in particular — angered breastfeeding mums across the USA, leading many of them to share breastfeeding selfies (also known as “brelfies”) on Facebook and Twitter.
In reponse to the segment, Virgina mum Jill DeLorenzo, who is also a strong breastfeeding advocate, organised a nurse-in during the May 23 taping of “Today”. She also created a petition on Change.org which asks NBC to “stop shaming and censoring breastfeeding moms.”
DeLorenzo told theAsianparent.com, “A prompt public outcry in the form of a nurse-in can encourage a quick apology. We had hoped this would be the case for NBC. The content they aired is offensive to those of us nursing our babies. It is also dangerous to highly impressionable new mothers who are just beginning their breastfeeding journeys.”
Research-backed reasons why we need to encourage breastfeeding on the next page, where you can also watch the contentious “OK! Or Not OK” segment and sign DeLorenzo’s petition…
There’s no shame in breastfeeding a baby.
Why we should stop stigmatising breastfeeding
When breastfeeding is portrayed as something to be ashamed of, it discourages mums from providing their babies with a stellar source of nourishment. It is also a slap in the face to the vast and well-established body of research and literature that highlight the benefits of breastfeeding.
Here are four concrete reasons, backed by science and research, that show why breast is best:
- Health effects: There’s really no other food like breast milk that is uniquely tailored to meet your baby’s nutritional needs. It is a “living food” with unmatched immunological and anti-inflammatory properties that protect both you and your little one from a range of illnesses and diseases.
- Psychosocial effects: Breastfeeding is hailed by lactation and health experts as one of the best ways a mum can bond with her newborn. Nursing your baby may also help to lower the risk of postpartum depression.
For mums living in poorer nations, breast milk provides a valuable and free source of good nutrition for their children.
- Economic effects: Breast milk is free of cost — need we say more? But if you want the facts, there are studies that have estimated that mums who breastfeed their kids can save more than US$ $1,200–$1,500 in formula costs in just the first year alone. It is a lifesaver for babies in poorer countries and enables mums in such countries to give their little ones an amazing head start in life.
- Environmental effects: Your breast milk is a natural, renewable food. There is no packaging involved that may be deposited in landfills as in the case of other substitutes for human milk. Unlike these substitutes which accumulate an excessive number of food miles, breast milk goes directly from the source, to your baby. It reduces the carbon footprint by saving precious global resources and energy.
We do realise and understand that not all mums can breastfeed their babies for a variety of reasons. The point of this article is certainly not to undermine those mums. As DeLorenzo points out, “The shaming of moms hits a nerve with all segments of the population… This also includes mothers who bottle feed. (I must say, I am incredibly proud to include bottle feeding mothers among my strongest supporters!).”
What we do need to understand is that those mums who do breastfeed should have the freedom and right to nurse their babies without feeling judged and ashamed of their choice.
If you too feel that attitudes towards breastfeeding need to change now, you can sign DeLorenzo’s petition here. You can also use the hashtags #PositiveBreastfeeding and #normalizebreastfeeding.
Watch the contentious “OK! Or Not OK” segment that appeared on “Today” below:
Mums, we would love to hear what you think about this story and if you think breastfeeding mums should be sharing their “brelfies” on social media or not. Do drop us a comment below.