I’ve been asked to write some weekly columns for a new magazine called Rare. This week, I talk about breastfeeding in public:
I gave birth in Ithaca, New York, one of the most “breast-feeding friendly” cities in the nation. The community encourages young mothers to nurse their children with as much fervor as the government encourages you to pay taxes. Lactation consultants show up in your hospital room right after child birth, the local hospital forbids pacifiers because they might cause “nipple confusion” and – perhaps because of the large international community – it’s common to see moms nursing children beyond two years. (In fact, once at the pediatrician, I met a woman who was nursing her two children who were two and five years old.)
Breastfeeding, it seems pretty unanimous, is better than bottle feeding. Breast milk provides antibodies which protect from respiratory and intestinal diseases, increases immunity, protects newborn intestines, and — if you believe the hype — makes babies more likely to get into Harvard. World Breastfeeding Week, which was the first week in August, should have been a time for everyone on the planet to come together as one and celebrate the fact that even though we’ll go to the mat on issues like co-sleeping and childhood vaccinations, we all agree on at least this single parenting issue: breast is best.
However, a dispute in Texas between a mom and a recreational-facility employee during World Breastfeeding Week created some passionate debate over exactly where lactating mothers can — or should — feed their infants.
See the video of the altercation and discover my take on the whole conflict here. (Here’s a teaser: in the battle of breastfeeding versus manners, we must have both!)