More than 80% of infants are breastfed in the US today, but breastfeeding often doesn’t look the way most of us think of it, as a result of adoption, same sex marriage, and other changes in parenting. An expert discusses some of the hurdles and challenges to getting infants the best nutrition possible.
Dr. Kristin Wilson, Chair of the Anthropology Department at Cabrillo College and author of Others’ Milk: The Potential of Exceptional Breastfeeding, says there’s not one “right” way to breastfeed. Even if some practices fall outside societal norms, Dr. Wilson stresses it’s okay to get creative when deciding how to care for and feed your child.
What Dr. Wilson refers to as “exceptional” breastfeeders are the ones that set aside the Madonna-and-baby idea of breastfeeding, and take inventory of all options available based on their specific circumstances. Scientific evidence shows that breastfeeding is ideal for newborns and infants, both nutritionally and psychologically. Wilson, therefore, argues the practice should be considered by all parents, regardless of practical or societal hurdles––whether that means sharing milk, pumping, or inducing lactation.
“Others’ Milk” in the book’s title refers to making breastmilk accessible to mothers who can’t produce it themselves, but it also pokes fun at the seemingly endless opinions parents encounter when deciding what’s best for their child. Wilson makes clear that breastfeeding is, of course, not feasible in all situations but should not be dismissed due to the judgments of others.
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