Tag Archives: breast

What If Other People Made You Use Your Teeth Only For Smiling?

Many people still fail to understand breastfeeding. They are not all grandiose males like Donald Trump, who “lost it” at an attorney who wanted to take a pre-scheduled and agreed-upon lunch break to pump her baby’s food in a private office, unwatched by anyone.

Some people who fail to understand are corporate employees, like those at a Walmart who refused to print photos showing a baby at the breast (Walmart rejects photos involving “sexual content”; it walked back from its stance and apologized to the baby’s mother, acknowledging that breastfeeding is not sexual).

Some of those who live in ignorance are even female (presumably those who fed their babies formula, or who are childfree); according to one survey, these women are apt to toss dirty looks or snide comments at those who are feeding their babies from the breast.

That we should still, in the United States, be at such woeful levels of ignorance, willing to let babies obtain less than their mothers are willing to give – in 2015! – is simply astounding.

Look, I get it, you’re all for breastfeeding . . . until it impinges on your consciousness. Until someone does it near you. Until you feel embarrassed (why?) and turn your head.

Until, that is, you see breasts being used for their designed purpose.

However you think the animal world developed (nature; one god; multiple gods; “seeding” from an alien planet; fill-in-your-theory-here), the fact is that mammary glands developed to feed mammalian babies and small offspring. That is their FUNCTION.

Now, you may find breasts attractive, especially if you are male or lesbian. That is RESPONSE, which may be sexual.

You may think breasts should never be displayed without a bra or bikini top, however skimpy it is. Or you may believe that unbound breasts belong only on glossy pages or in the pixels of online porn. That is FASHION.

When women breastfeed their babies and small children, their breasts are fulfilling the function for which they were designed. They are making no attempt to be sexual (especially if the baby has begun to bite – nothing sexual about that – or if the mother is battling infection, ditto on the lack of sexiness). If watchers who do not turn their eyes elsewhere respond in a sexual manner (not all males or lesbians do), their response is on them.

Some people believe that human breasts can be displayed for fashion (on the beach, for modeling, in low-cut dresses – Donald Trump seems to be onboard with his wife Melania’s lavish display of frontage here and here and here) but not for function.

Imagine someone insisting that your teeth are fine in a smile, but should not be used for chewing or biting, at least not within plain sight.

“I like to see your teeth, they’re beautiful, you have a gorgeous smile, but when they’re mixed up with food? With eating? God, no! Don’t show me functioning teeth!”

Ridiculous, right?

So is disparaging breastfeeding that’s going on near you. If you have a negative response, look away – there’s tons to see elsewhere. You’re envious, or jealous? Deal with it internally. You think the breast should be more covered, even though babies often wrench covers off because they feel hot and stifled? Look away and chill. If that woman were not breastfeeding, but instead were wearing a low-cut shirt, would you have the same reaction? You might – but that would be an objection to fashion.

Objecting to function will never make sense. Try using your teeth for smiling – only smiling – for an entire day, 24 hours. No biting, no chewing, nothing that will gain you nourishment.

Teeth are made for more than smiling. They have a function.

Breasts are made for more than pretty. Their function is to feed small humans the milk that nature intended, that is made specifically for that child’s needs. There is so much right in that, that to object to it seems irrational.


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Breastfeeding Prevents Breast Cancer

Breastfeeding is the original calmer, too. Oxytocin, babes.

A few weeks ago, I encountered a university student raising money by staffing a bake sale in support of breast cancer research. I bought two chocolate chip cookies, perused the brochures displayed on the table and noted, “There aren’t any on breastfeeding.”

“Well, no, because this is about breast cancer. And research for a cure.”

“I understand. But maybe you didn’t know that breastfeeding prevents breast cancer? Up to one-fifth of malignancies.”


After I explained, she dragged her friends over to listen to my impassioned – albeit short — speech. Not one of these intelligent, competitive students had even heard of the research showing that feeding one’s baby from the breast benefits the mother, too. Not from their maternal relatives, nor their physicians, nor their professors, nor . . ..

So do girls and young women a favor. Let them know. Spread the message below. Forward this post – every message below links to a different article or study on how, when they are mature and ready to take on the task of raising a child, breastfeeding improves the health of the mother.

Breastfeeding prevents cancer.

Breastfeeding prevents cancer.

Breastfeeding prevents cancer.

Breastfeeding prevents cancer.

Breastfeeding prevents cancer.

Breastfeeding prevents cancer.

Breastfeeding prevents cancer.

Breastfeeding prevents cancer.

Breastfeeding prevents cancer.


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Got A Pregnant Person In That Book You’re Writing? Don’t Make Her Lactate Before The Baby’s Born.

Breasts during pregnancy. Got milk? Not yet.


I belong to a book club. We take turns selecting a monthly novel (and hosting the meeting, which often turns raucous), and because we have diverse tastes we get to read works we as individuals would never have picked from a stack.


Over the past months, we met a pair of authors who fell down on lactation.


The first was Marina Lewycka, who wrote the warm, wry A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian. We adored the novel but were less than enthused with her take on milk production in Valentina, the narrator’s elderly father’s detested new wife (page 237):


She pulls up on the brown oil-scarred lawn and eases herself out of the driving seat. Her belly is vast, her splendid bosom engorged with milk . . ..


No. Just no. Ask any breastfeeding counselor, any woman who’s nursed her child. Milk doesn’t come in until the baby’s out, when childbirth makes for hormonal changes in the mother’s brain, changes to signal her body that the energy she formerly used in creating a tiny human should now be devoted to feeding that infant. The structure is built for lactation – almost everyone’s breasts grow during pregnancy – but the milk itself? Not there yet, because not yet needed. It would be like using automobile factory resources to concentrate on the paint job when the car has yet to be built.


The latter author, the celebrated Rachel Kushner, wrote The Flamethrowers. It’s a terrific, finely crafted, well-researched book. Except for this (page 277) that includes a pregnant young woman named Anna:


The one with the microphone leaned in toward [Anna] and placed his hand on her breast.

She looked at him with a child’s mischievous delight.

“There’s milk,” she said, holding her breasts up . . .. She pushed with her hands, squirting a fine light stream up at him.


This passage actually contains two basic errors. One, of course she could have no milk, she’s still pregnant; and two, human milk does not eject in a single “fine light stream”. A woman who pulls her breast from her nursing child’s mouth will wet his face with fine light multiple spatters like a garden hose set to spray rather than jet.


Look, it’s not brain surgery. It’s basic physiology, for writers who have never breastfed. If you’re going to spend time checking your research on 1950s tractors (Lewycka) or Italian motorcycles (Kushner), use those same skills to make sure you do not, out of ignorance, burden your pregnant characters with abilities they cannot in real life possess.



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