While the world has always known that breast milk is the ultimate in nutrition for a baby, further testing continues to reveal the huge advantages to breast milk over formula. In February 2016, The Washington Post published the findings of two separate medical journal reports that revealed some astounding results. Not only did the study reveal that the babies being breastfed were healthier, but that 823,000 children’s deaths would be averted within a six month period if they were given breast milk. The positive effects of breast milk included a lower risk of asthma, warding off infections, preventing leukemia, preventing diabetes, and even increasing intelligence.
Although many realize the benefits of breastfeeding and understand that it’s completely natural, there still seems to be a certain stigma surrounding it. Regardless of the benefits for both mother and child, women face a plethora of judgment from other women, men, young and old. Weighing in on everything from where a mother is allowed to breastfeed to what age is appropriate wean off a child, nowadays breastfeeding is one of the hot-button topics for headline grabbing news. No one seems to be exempt from this judgment, and even celebrities have had their fair share of shaming headlines for their breastfeeding choices. This is ironic since these same publications often go out of their way to highlight barely-there clothing on the red carpet or topless sunbathing on the beach, but a mother breastfeeding her child can be scrutinized to a different level. Check out our list of the 15 most shocking breastfeeding headlines, and decide whether or not you agree with these parenting choices.
15. Starbucks Supports Breastfeeding Women
In a world where chain stores are known to pander to whichever side is making the most noise, it’s actually quite surprising to hear about a venue that actually took the side of the breastfeeding woman that wasn’t wearing a modesty cover. Yet, that is exactly what happened in 2014, when a customer came to the counter of a Starbucks in Canada (yes, they have Starbucks in Canada) to complain about a woman that wasn’t wearing a modesty cover while breastfeeding her baby. The 19-year-old barista, who wasn’t named, claimed that he would handle the situation. He then proceeded to make a complimentary drink for the breastfeeding mother in an effort to ease the stress of what she was enduring with the other complaining customer. The story went viral, with diverse reactions from those that were inspired by his generosity to those who thought the breastfeeding mother was akin to indecent exposure. Although Starbucks doesn’t have an official policy regarding breastfeeding, spokeswoman Laurel Harper, released the statement, “We empower our local partners to reach a decision about how best to make a customer’s experience a positive one. It was up to the employee to decide which customer in this case was going to have a less-positive experience.”
14. Pole Dancing And Breastfeeding
It’s difficult to think of pole dancing and breastfeeding in the same sentence. While they both involve exposing a woman’s breasts, the act of infant feeding isn’t exactly known for evoking the same sexual arousal as seeing a woman slide up and down a pole swinging a few strategically placed tassels. Yet, one California mother has decided to combine pole dancing with breastfeeding in a video that went viral. Ashley Wright had already come under fire a few years ago when she posted videos of herself pole dancing while her young daughter watched, and even strapped the young girl to her back in one of the videos. However, it’s the breastfeeding videos with her youngest child that has truly sparked the most outrage. Her baby is strapped to her body in a sling carrier, and can be seen breastfeeding while Wright whips up and down the pole. The video was first seen in January 2016, but has since made its rounds on YouTube. Allegedly, Wright made the video to show off her passion for both pole dancing and breastfeeding, and claimed that it was about showcasing the strength factor in acrobatic pole dancing. While it’s true that more people have begun to see the athleticism required in pole dancing, it still doesn’t sit right to see a woman working the pole with a baby strapped to her breast.
13. Gisele Bundchen Shares What Her Breastfeeding Looks Like
There are a number of grievances mothers have with celebrities that give birth, from their couture maternity clothing to their instantaneous weight loss. It’s obviously a lot easier to get rid of the baby weight when you have the financial resources to hire a nutritionist, personal trainer, home chef, and of course, expert airbrushing. The same can be said for the plethora of nannies that practically raise their children while the celebrity mothers have the luxury to live a stress-free life of leisure. The difference between regular moms and celebrities was never made clearer than in the Instagram post by Gisele Bundchen “multitasking” in 2013. The former Victoria’s Secret model and wife of Tom Brady posted a photo of her breastfeeding while getting her hair, nails, and makeup done by professionals. The caption read, “What would I do without this beauty squad after the 15 hours flying and only 3 hours of sleep #multitasking #gettingready.” The Internet exploded due to the sheer mockery of the situation, as real mothers don’t have the same luxurious experiences in their multitasking breastfeeding adventures. While other women are breastfeeding a child while vacuuming, dusting, cooking, and doing a load of laundry, Bundchen doesn’t even know what true multitasking truly entails.
12. Mayim Bialik Breastfeeding Her 4-Year-Old
Prior to Mayim Bialik’s emergence as Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on the hit series, The Big Bang Theory, she lived relatively out of the spotlight and was only known for her former performance as a child actress in Blossom. During her time out of the limelight, Bialik studied neuroscience and actually earned a PhD. Yet, her time away from Hollywood didn’t mean that she was entirely out of the headlines since she shocked many with her views on breastfeeding. In fact, a photo of Bialik breastfeeding her 4-year-old child on the subway turned up online and had many people questioning this highly controversial method. To put this into perspective, a 4-year-old child is in its second year of preschool and is already quite vocal. In fact, the majority of preschools won’t accept children into their first year of preschool unless they are already potty trained. So, for a 4-year-old child to still be nursing at their mother’s breast right before entering Kindergarten and at least a year or two after learning to go to the bathroom by themselves is more than a bit shocking. While all of her children have since weaned off nursing, the issue is still brought up whenever she’s out interviewing or promoting different projects.
11. Olivia Wilde Breastfeeding Without A Cover
The September 2014 issue of Glamour magazine featured a pictorial spread of Olivia Wilde with her 5-month-old son. This came at a time when the breastfeeding issue was at the height of public debate, and she was by no means the first celebrity to partake in an ultra glamorous breastfeeding photo. Wilde is seen wearing a glamorous Roberto Cavalli dress and holding her naked infant to her breast, while she feeds him without a cover. Her dress is pulled down to expose her breast, and she is sitting with a content look as she glowingly looks down on her suckling son. Although the photo was certainly taken to show the beautiful side of motherhood and nurturing through the infant feeding process, some became outraged at the hypocrisy of the photo. While it seemed glamorous and acceptable for Olivia Wilde to be publicly breastfeeding inside a diner without a modesty cover for a pictorial spread in Glamour, that was definitely not the case for millions of women throughout the world. Women were being shunned, shamed, and in some cases, asked to leave when they chose to breastfeed in public. While the photo may have started off as a promotion for breastfeeding, it wound up becoming a debacle for both the magazine and Wilde.
10. Mother Breastfeeding At College Graduation
The higher education timeline used to involve a strict 4-year attendance after the summer following high school. College students were known for the dorm-life experience, fraternities, sororities, and everything else that comes with becoming an adult. Yet, times have certainly changed, and people no longer adhere to those strict guidelines. Nowadays, high school students often spend time away from school to “find themselves” and older adults return to school to further their careers. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise Karlesha Thurman to be graduating from college at the age of 25-years-old. The surprising part came when she brought along her infant daughter to her California State University Long Beach graduation and posted photos of herself breastfeeding at the ceremony. The photo was picked up by a page that celebrates women of color that decide to breastfeed, Black Women Do Breastfeed. While the organization left an encouraging caption to the photo, not all of the comments were as supportive. The photo spread throughout the Internet, and a particularly harsh Twitter comment stated, “Nobody told her to hoe around in 3rd period .She should’ve been doing her work & maybe she wouldn’t be breastfeeding during her graduation.” It’s hard to say what is most shocking about this story, either the breastfeeding photo in cap and gown or the volatile comments that came afterward.
9. Male-Based Breastfeeding Campaign
Oftentimes, men tend to stay out of campaigns regarding women’s issues. When women were burning bras to symbolize the freedom of gender confinement, there weren’t exactly throngs of men marching alongside them to help ignite the flames. Yet, a campaign in 2014 hoped to change all that with Project Breastfeeding. Father and Founder, Hector Cruz, launched a campaign to try and shed the stigma behind breastfeeding and male encouragement. In an interview with MailOnline, he stated, “My goal is getting dads involved. When it comes to breastfeeding we think its none of our business, so we think that it’s not our duty – but that’s so not true.” The ad campaign certainly achieved its goal of being thought-provoking and attention grabbing since it featured a variety of different men all holding infants to their chests in a way that a woman might while breastfeeding. The message stated, “If I Could, I Would.” It was a great way to show women that their men stand behind them in their decision to breastfeed, and it was one of the few campaigns involving women’s issues that both men and women could collaborate on together.
8. Breastfeeding Doll For Children
Baby doll toys have always been a favorite for little girls, whether it was the porcelain dolls with closing eyelids when they are put to sleep or the full-on baby dolls that come with matching stroller and bottles. While the world seems perfectly fine with seeing a little girl feeding a pretend bottle to their doll or even burping their toy, it became a completely different story once a Spanish toy company came out with a breastfeeding baby doll. “Bebé Glotón” (Glutton Baby) was a doll that came with a bra-like harness with magnetic daisies positioned by the nipple area. Then, the child could pretend it was breastfeeding the baby. The premise of the toy is based on the idea that children like to imitate what they see from their own mothers, and with millions of women breastfeeding, it seemed obvious for a child to want their own baby doll to pretend nurse. When the toymaker, Berjuan Toys, announced that the toy would be renamed “The Breast Milk Baby” to cater to American consumers, news outlets hurried to pick up the story. US audiences couldn’t grasp the notion of seeing a child pretend to breastfeed their doll, and the toy never did gain a marketable audience.
7. Angelina Jolie Breastfeeding Statue
Back in 2008 when Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were very much in love and considered Hollywood’s hottest couple, W Magazine published a series of private photos of Jolie taken by Pitt. The cover photo was shot in black-and-white and featured Jolie breastfeeding with a look of utter beauty and contentment, despite the fact that she looked far from the ultra-glamorous movie star the public is used to seeing on the red carpet. Supposedly inspired by this photo, New York artist, Daniel Edwards, created a life-size nude sculpture of Jolie breastfeeding her twins for a park bench piece for the Oklahoma City Metro area (which so happens to be very close to Pitt’s birthplace). The sculpture was unveiled for World Breastfeeding Week, and had a goal of encouraging breastfeeding in public. Sandy Wilson, a spokesperson for Phantom-Financial, released a statement saying, “We believe the statue sends a beautiful message by promoting the acceptance of public breastfeeding. Mothers should be encouraged to nurture their babies everywhere.”
6. Nigel Farage Agrees With Women Ordered To Cover Up While Breastfeeding
Nigel Farage is a hugely prominent figure in British politics, and has been hailed for his “tell it like it is” stance. Unlike other politicians that have an ultra-polished persona, Farage was often seen smoking in his office and visiting pubs in his off-hours. As the leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), Farage led the force in efforts to have the UK leave the European Union. He has been hailed for certain outbursts that have gone viral, like when he called out Herman van Rompuy during his inaugural appearance as the “President of Europe.” Farage famously began shouting, “Who are you? No one in Europe has ever heard of you.” The world stood up and took notice since Farage seemed to be the only one to point out the fact that Herman van Rompuy was appointed the position without so much as a vote, and all of a sudden was declared “President of Europe.” However, not all of Farage’s outbursts were positive, and it was his agreement about public breastfeeding that sparked some major outrage. Claridge’s, a luxury hotel in the UK, famously confronted a woman that was breastfeeding and asked her to cover up. When asked about the incident, Farage agreed with Claridge’s statement and said, “perhaps sit in the corner.”
5. Salma Hayek Breastfeeding Another Woman’s Baby
Breastfeeding is an intensely personal and intimate experience for both mother and child. Women go to great lengths to promote milk production, from taking vitamin supplements to pumping their breast milk to ensure lactation. Likewise, the choice to start or stop breastfeeding is also a decision that is not taken lightly. So, with women feeling so deeply about the breastfeeding process, it is almost unfathomable to think about breastfeeding another woman’s child. Yet, that is exactly what Salma Hayek did while on a goodwill trip to Sierra Leone. Hayek was still lactating due to her 1-year-old daughter at the time, and was visiting a hospital when doctors relayed that Sierra Leone had the highest infant mortality rate in the world. This is partly due to the stigma put on breastfeeding, since many men stick with the tradition that it isn’t acceptable for women to have sex if they are still breastfeeding. In an attempt to do away with that stigma (and feed a hungry baby), Hayek began breastfeeding another woman’s baby on camera. The video sparked a debate on the entire breastfeeding issue, and even Hayek’s willingness to give away milk that was designated for her own daughter. When interviewed by Nightline, Hayek stated, “I actually think my baby would be very proud to share her milk. And when she grows up I’m going to make sure she continues to be a generous, caring person.”
4. Breastfeeding In The Bathroom Campaign
Although the majority of the world realizes that breastfeeding is a completely natural act, that doesn’t diminish the fact that breasts are highly sexualized in the Western world. People tend to think of public breastfeeding as exposing themselves, and there are strong feelings against women breastfeeding outside of certain designated areas. While there are some department stores that offer breastfeeding lounges, the vast majority of public spaces don’t have any sort of breastfeeding area and women are forced to go into the bathrooms to feed their hungry infants. In an effort to draw attention to this, students at the University of North Texas created an ad campaign entitled, “When Nurture Calls.” Kris Haro and Johnathan Wenske wanted to show just how difficult it is for women to breastfeed their children, from the cramped and uncomfortable space to the unappetizing environment for the infant. The statement at the bottom of the ad campaign reads, “Would you eat here? By law, breastfeeding mothers are not protected from harassment and refusal of service in public, often forcing them to feed in secluded spaces such as public bathrooms… because a baby should never be nurtured where nature calls.”
3. Man Punches Wife And Hits Newborn Baby For Breastfeeding
The birth of a new baby brings on intense feelings for both parents involved, from witnessing the miracle of life to the notion of adding a branch to the family tree. While most men spend those first few hours fawning over their newborn child and caring for their recovering wife, a father from New Mexico had a completely different take on this magical time. Rafael Orozco was with his girlfriend at a hospital near Albuquerque when his newborn child became hungry. His girlfriend began breastfeeding the infant when a male doctor walked into the room to check on both mother and child. It was during this instant when Orozco allegedly punched his girlfriend in the mouth and then hit the newborn on the head on September 21, 2016. An altercation between security and hospital staff ensued where Orozco allegedly claimed to have a gun. He then fled, and the hospital was put on lockdown. When questioned, Orozco’s girlfriend said that he is known for being a very “jealous man.”
2. Attachment Parenting On The Cover Of Time
Time magazine has a history of thought-provoking covers that have become instantly recognizable. This was definitely the case for their May 2012 cover, featuring mother, Jamie Lynne Grumet, breastfeeding her 3-year-old son. The headline for the cover was “Are You Mom Enough?” Grumet actually stated that she wasn’t aware that the photo was going to be used for the cover, and thought that it was just part of a larger piece that was to focus on attachment parenting. While there was a coinciding article inside the magazine about extended breastfeeding, it was the photo that sparked the biggest debate. Attachment parenting promotes the theory that there is a closer bond between mother and child through continuous closeness and touch. Women are encouraged to continue breastfeeding beyond the typical one-year that most Westerners subscribe to, which is also the dominant method of breastfeeding in most other parts of the world. Whether the shock was due to the 3-year-old looking like he could have passed for a small 7-year-old or the fact that the woman wasn’t wearing a modesty cover, it’s difficult to say what was the biggest trigger in this breastfeeding headline. However, it definitely sparked a debate.
1. Transgender Breastfeeding
The issues involving transgender individuals have increasingly been highlighted in recent years, from Oprah interviewing a family with a 5-year-old that identified as the opposite sex to Bruce Jenner coming out as Caitlyn. The increased attention on transgender individuals in the U.S. has also given rise to other issues like neutral bathrooms in public places. While the world seems to be embracing these issues (albeit hesitantly), things start to get a bit tricky when it comes to breastfeeding as a man. Trevor MacDonald transitioned into a man in his early 20s, began taking testosterone, and had surgery on his chest to have his appearance coincide with his new gender identity. Yet, MacDonald never underwent a hysterectomy and went on to give birth to two children with his partner. He began documenting the experience through his blog, and made headlines when photos appeared with him breastfeeding. It turns out that there are actually quite a number of cases of transgender men breastfeeding, and there was even a study conducted by the Canadian Institute of Health Research to look into the experiences of transgender men throughout the birthing and breastfeeding phases. While it can physically be achieved, it’s still the thing that draws huge headlines since it’s not something the public expects to see.