Breast Feeding Across Cultures Essay

1125 words - 5 pages

Breast feeding has been in practice for a very long time, as early as 2000 BC. Before the invention of formula, bottles, and pumps this was the safest most common way for a mother to feed their infants. In fact, for 99% of human history breast milk was the sole source of nutrition for children until the age of two. In today’s society there are many different and opposing personal stand points on where or not a mother should breast feed their children. It is a very controversial topic with many variables. In breast feeding there are several benefits, reasons, and cultural effects that go into making the decision to engage or stay away from breast feeding. There is also historical causes and ...view middle of the document...

Several reasons exist for the women who do not favor breast feeding. Many women feel as if the formulas are high enough in nutrients for their infants. The formula in today’s society is much more advanced and acceptable. Another reason is that breast feeding is painful and time consuming. Another common reason to not breast feed is that many women want to return to work and not be limited to the places they can go such as restaurants and stores that do not allow breast feeding.
There is historical evidence of this all over the world. In Israel around 2000 BC, children were deemed a blessing, and breastfeeding was considered a religious obligation. Breastfeeding was not always possible, however, due to lactation failure of the mother In Greece around 950 BC, women of higher social status frequently demanded wet nurses. Wet nurses were women that were paid to breast feed new babies when their biological mothers were not able to accomplish it. Breast feeding a child was widely accepted as “the thing to do” and even though it was uncomfortable and inconvenient many mothers took part in it. It was also common for fathers to watch the process and in turn it was a bonding experience for the whole family and eventually, wet nurses acquired a position of accountability and authority. The Bible even notes various examples of wet nurses
At the climax of the Roman Empire, between 300 BC and 400 AD, written contracts were formed with wet nurses to feed orphaned or unwanted infants which were mostly females thrown out. The wealthy purchased the infant as an inexpensive slave for future use, and the wet nurses, who were usually slaves, fed the infant for up to 3 years. Contracts provided a detailed account of the wet nursing service, including duration of breastfeeding and payment for the service
In early America “wet nursing” never became a very common practice. North American settlers viewed that it was for the European elite, due to different life styles, living on the frontier, and the view and expense of wet nurses. Mothers intuitively understood that breast-fed babies had the best chance of surviving childhood. They also noted that breast-feeding helped to delay conception, providing a natural way to have birth control.
In the 1900’s there was a decline in the amount of women that...

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