Breastfeeding - A look in the past

I must confess breastfeeding is one of my favorite topics. So, I thought of starting a series of blog posts about breastfeeding. And what’s better to start with, than a look in the past?

Breastfeeding is as old as the humankind. Millions of babies have survived and thrived drinking their mother’s milk. Until quite recently, there was no choice, there was no alternative for feeding the babies. The women seemed to know what to do, since they lived in communities and they were supporting each other. Little girls knew already much about breastfeeding, as they had seen women in their community feeding their babies. If one mother didn’t have enough milk or was facing challenges with breastfeeding, then some other mom from the community, who also had small babies, would breastfeed her baby.

Even later, when the noble women considered that breastfeeding is for the poor, they had a wet nurse who would breastfeed their babies. Usually she was a poor woman, who had babies of her own and her job was to breastfeed the noble babies.

Formula, as well as pacifiers and bottles, came as a result of the industrial revolution. The women had to be part of the production, they had to go to work in the factories, as more working hands were needed. As a result, there had to be a solution for the feeding of their babies. That’s when the way we see babies, what we consider normal, how we parent started changing: babies should have their own bedroom, because moms needed to sleep so that they could go to work the next day. Babies could not be with their moms 24 hours per day, so there had to be some other way to comfort them.  Moms could not breastfeed on demand, so there had to be another way to feed the babies.

And slowly over the years, this became a habit and the women got disconnected from their village, from their babies, from what’s normal and what is not and as gradually the society stopped having realistic expectations from the moms and from the babies.

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As a result, the artificial milk substitutes appeared. The companies that produced it had, admittedly, very good marketing campaigns in order to convince mothers that the artificial milk was equal or even superior than their milk. And the rest is pretty much known to everyone. Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe that it is good to have alternatives and it is good that we have choices. Artificial milk has helped babies in need to survive, it has saved lives. But it is important not to forget our nature, it is important not to underestimate the worth of breastfeeding and not to spread false information about it, because breastfeeding is a natural procedure. It takes patience, motivation, information and support in order to achieve it. Breastfeeding your baby is so much more than just providing milk and it is the best gift you can give to your baby and to yourself. 

Any stories from the past of your culture that you would like to share?

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