by Amy Spangler
August 03, 2010
When was the last time a celebrity breastfed a baby, cooked breakfast, breastfed a baby, packed lunches, drove carpool, breastfed a baby, worked her ‘second job’ (breast pumping twice during the work day), drove carpool, breastfed a baby, cooked dinner, read a bedtime story, washed and ironed clothes, breastfed a baby—all in the same day and without help?
With thousands of U.S. women attempting to do all of the above and more, for Gisele Bundchen Brady to tell Harpers Bazaar UK, “I think there should be a worldwide law, in my opinion, that mothers should breastfeed their babies for six months,” serves only to highlight the chasm between the lives of celebrity moms and those moms famous only among families and friends.
I realize that the supermodel’s intentions are good. As a staunch advocate, I welcome any and all support for breastfeeding. But someone who suggests that there be a law requiring women to breastfeed fails to recognize the challenges women face every day in attempting to meet their needs and the needs of their families.
The fact that many mothers choose not to breastfeed, or breastfeed for only a short time, is less about lack of interest, and more about lack of resources. Celebrities and other people in high-profile jobs can best serve mothers and babies and the cause of breastfeeding by advocating for extended maternity leave, flexible work schedules, worksite child care, and access to skilled breastfeeding support for as long as it is needed. Gisele is right in suggesting that breastfeeding, especially exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, is essential to the health of children worldwide. But passing a law won’t make it happen.
In the meantime, every mother’s effort to give her baby any amount of breast milk for any amount of time needs to be applauded.
Editor’s Note—August 4, 2010
The beauty of electronic communication is that it gives all of us a chance to clarify our original intent. Such is the case with Gisele, who in her personal blog writes:
“It’s unfortunate that in an interview sometimes things can seem so black and white. I am sure if I would just be sitting talking about my experiences with other mothers, we would just be sharing opinions. I understand that everyone has their own experience and opinions and I am not here to judge. I believe that bringing a life into this world is the single most important thing a person can undertake and it can also be the most challenging. I think as mothers we are all just trying our best.”
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