The recent birth of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s first child, Archie Harrison, has led to a lot of speculation about how the couple will raise their son. Touted as being the most audacious of the royals, one of the hot topics introduced by the media is whether or not Markle will breastfeed Archie, and if she will do so in public.
Depending on your upbringing and culture, feeding in a public space may not seem like such a big deal. But for many others, and for a royal who would be the first to do so, it is an important step towards normalizing the most ordinary way of keeping our little ones happy and nourished.
Why Celebrity Endorsement Matters
Whether we like it or not, we take a lot of social and cultural cues from those who are seen the most such as political figures and celebrities. By witnessing new mothers who are in the public eye breastfeeding their babies in a public space, on Instagram, or other channels, it opens up society’s awareness of the importance of breastfeeding.
A Topic Many Are Ignorant About
Nursing may be as old as the creation of humankind. But there are a lot of misconceptions about breastfeeding and how important it is for our little ones.
Some people think that nursing a baby is spoiling them. Others have been led to believe that formula is the ideal way to feed a baby. Then there are some who simply believe that breasts are purely sexual and serve no other function.
Breast milk is the ideal way to keep newborns, infants, and toddlers healthy and well-fed for several reasons:
- It provides complete nutrition for our babies
- It boosts their immunity as it is loaded with antibodies
- It can reduce the risk of many illnesses including respiratory tract infections, middle ear infections, and colds
- It supports healthy gut development
- It is linked to significantly reduced risk in SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
- It reduces the risk of childhood obesity
With many health experts concerned about the physical health of our youngest generation, it’s important that we take the health of our babies seriously and not allow the glares and comments of strangers to put the well-being of our children in harm’s way.
Enough With the Shaming Already!
There are a number of stories in America about everyday mums being asked to “cover up” or who are being mistreated because they chose to breastfeed in public.
- One mother in Beverly Hills was escorted to an Anthropologie store bathroom when breastfeeding her six-week-old baby
- Another mother in Beaverton, Oregon was asked to cover up in a restaurant
- Yet another mother in Oregon was asked to cover up by her own doctor during a visit to discuss postpartum depression
These and other mothers who shared their stories either through social media or other outlets were given loads of support. Many of these mums attended “nurse-ins,” where hundreds of mums gather at locations where a nursing mother was shamed and feed openly in protest.
Getting the word out about these events normalizes breastfeeding. Actions like these and celebrities like Markle feeding in public give new mothers the confidence to feed their children in any way they see fit.
Whether breastfeeding, formula feeding, or nourishing our children by combining the two, it’s 2019. It’s about time the public stopped feeling so squeamish and uncomfortable about mothers doing what is best for the health and well-being of their babies and let all mums get on with the job of feeding their child however they choose.
Photo by Sky News