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The other day, I was sitting in the park and I saw the most disgusting thing. A woman was feeding her hungry baby.
OK, I know how that sounds, but it was really horrible. There I was, enjoying a pleasant afternoon in the sun, and the next thing I know, this woman picks up her kid, pushes her blouse to the side, and shoves her baby’s face up against one of her breasts. He was lapping it up like a piglet.
Boy, if that doesn’t turn your stomach, I don’t know what will! Sure, no one wants a baby to go hungry, but couldn’t she have the decency to find some deserted area of the park, or maybe go into a nearby building and do that in the bathroom? If a woman can’t afford infant formula, she shouldn’t be out in public to begin with, right?
Really, we need some laws to address stuff like this!
Oh wait, we do have laws like that. Forty-eight states protect the rights of a nursing mother to breastfeed her child in public.
West Virginia and Idaho haven’t yet seen fit to join the civilized crowd.
The human race has been raising babies on mother’s milk since forever. But then in 1867, Justus von Liebig invented infant formula, and “decent society” quickly threw a modesty blanket over nursing mothers.
It’s not that infant formula is necessarily a bad thing. Many mothers cannot lactate and need an alternate food source for their babies.
But early versions of infant formula contained all sorts of questionable ingredients. And even today, studies have detected perchlorates (a rocket fuel component used extensively in pyrotechnics) in formulas.
A quick glance at one of the leading (non-organic) infant formulas showed the first two ingredients as corn syrup and sugar. In some formulas, sugar and other sweeteners comprise more than 50 percent of the product.
For those who would rather feed their babies a nice melamine-flavored formula, there’s always the Chinese imports.
So when did this nipple phobia creep into our society? A few hundred years ago, no one seemed to mind having children breastfed in public.
Anyone who has studied art knows that it was quite common for European artists to paint breastfeeding mothers, including the Madonna and Child. Yeah, even Jesus breastfed! (I’m sure that many West Virginians and Idahoans would claim that Mary fed him formula.)
Paintings of Mary breastfeeding Jesus were done by some “obscure” painters — Gerald David, Federico Barocci, Jan Provoost, Bartolomeo Veneto, and Leonardo Da Vinci, just to name a few.
Even the Vatican walls prominently display a portrait of Mary breastfeeding Jesus. And a few years ago, the Vatican came out with a statement encouraging the portrayal of the Madonna breastfeeding Jesus.
And why not? Breastfeeding has tremendous benefits for the baby. The milk is a perfect mix of vitamins, proteins and fats, a natural food rich in nutrients and antibodies designed to promote infant health.
As babies grow and their nutritional needs change, so does the makeup of the mother’s milk. Mother’s milk is easier to digest and reduces the chance of diabetes, stomach viruses, childhood leukemia, asthma, atopic dermatitis and even ear infections.
Back in a 1977 episode, guest star Buffy St. Marie breastfed her baby on television on Sesame Street. Big Bird exclaimed, “That’s a funny way to feed a baby!” And Buffy explained that lots of mothers feed their babies that way.
By the way, I hear that Big Bird now lives in West Virginia.
For some reason, people don’t mind seeing 46-inch breasts flapping in the breeze during a Victoria Secret commercial, but it’s considered immoral for a woman to feed her hungry baby in public with a lactating breast.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be seated in a restaurant across from a woman breastfeeding her child than having to endure the Second-Amendment rantings of a man toting a .44 in a holster, scarfing down refried beans and flatulating up a storm about how his rights supersede those of mothers.
So to all you breastfeeding moms out there, I say, “You go girl! Don’t be afraid to be human.”