Five things to know about breastfeeding

by jovan1984


For some, today is the last day of World Breastfeeding Week. For others (including the US), this is the first day of the aforementioned week.

You can thank the Gregorian calendar for why Breastfeeding Week is split this year. Had the month started on Sunday rather than Monday, every nation would have observed this week at the same time.

Additionally, August is National Breastfeeding Month.

With that in mind, most people are left in the dark about breastfeeding. Below the fold, are five things to know about breastfeeding:

  1. Breastfeeding is healthy. According to studies, breastfeeding keeps mothers and (future adults) healthy long into the latter stages in their lives. As much as 20 years can be added to a life expectancy if someone was breastfed.
  2. Breastfeeding is very much mainstream. While (as of 7/1/2016) only 19 states (Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Texas, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii) and the District of Columbia truly protect breastfeeding, it has become mainstream everywhere (e.g. in film, on Twitter and in blogs and newspapers) except in public. (NOTE: advocates claim 49 states protect the act, however a true protection would allow for lawsuits – AAP pinpointed that only the states listed fully preempts contrary local ordinances and allows for torts against businesses – two vital parts to any law that actually protects breastfeeding, if there’s more we’ll update this.) At least we have that going. Additionally, legalization of the act of breastfeeding has caused state legislatures in 48 states to remove state laws that criminalized female toplessness and public nudity (nudity laws are ambiguous in five states due to various local ordinances).
  3. Breastfeeding is nudity. Contrary to popular belief, breastfeeding is (partial) nudity (even if one can not see it), and it was Nudists and naturists who joined forces with lactivists to spearhead and accelerate efforts roughly a decade ago to legalize breastfeeding everywhere a woman has a right to be in this nation (the movement to legalize was dormant from the mid-1990s on to 2003 after successful efforts in New York, Illinois and California). Without the help of naturists and organizations such as the Naturist Action Committee, many of the breastfeeding laws enacted today would still be stuck in state legislative committees in one or both chambers. Still, though, breastfeeding is a very natural act and we need to encourage mothers to do it more often.
  4. Breastfeeding is reproductive justice. As the American Civil Liberties Union wrote on their blog, breastfeeding is a reproductive justice issue as well. Why? Because it involves the woman’s body (as well as that of a transgender man) and what she (he) wants to do with her (his) body should be up solely to her (him), not anyone else.
  5. Breastfeeding challenges the rampant attacks on other forms of nudity. As World Naked Bike Rides are ongoing here in the States – and the first of two weekends of GoTopless rallies near, you’re bound to hear or see people – especially men – demonizing women who openly breastfeed in public. Call them out on it in public; on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram; and on platforms like WordPress or Tumblr. The amount of exposure is not unlike what you would see at beaches where female toplessness is legal (this is what caused a pro-Trump idiot who threatened to kill Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during the Republican National Convention to push for an unconstitutional bill, known has HB 1525, that would ban constitutionally protected nudity in the Live Free or Die State) or on a billboard promoting Rihanna’s concerts. As Jovan says about people not wanting to see him naked, he advises the exact same thing for those who does not want to see mothers openly breastfeeding their young in public: turn away, get out of the establishment or close your damn eyes while walking!

BELIEVE IT: As the quiet loosening of laws show, breastfeeding is – in a silent way – helping to promote equality for all of us. Many of the same women who fought to legalize breastfeeding are now returning the favor to fight for nudity rights and women’s topless rights with the same strategy they employed for breastfeeding rights all those years ago.