Breastfeeding Throughout History
Analysis Paper 1 – Seminar 3
January 21, 2013
By Heather McCardel
HIS 301 - Women’s Studies
Professor Elena Thompson
Breastfeeding is a controversial issue among women and continues to be the minority when it comes to feeding choices for infants in the United States. Before other alternatives to breast milk were introduced, many children died because of the inability to feed the child. Breast milk used to be the primary source of food for an infant; however that has drastically changed throughout history. Even though breast milk has proven to be healthier for mother and baby than the alternative of using formula; it is ...view middle of the document...
There are many benefits to breastfeeding; both to the mother and child. According to Mansbacher (2012) the act of breastfeeding increased the bonding between mother and child. When you breastfeed and experience this bond with your child they become less likely to have behavioral problems later in life. (Mansbacher, 2012) “One very recent study of more than 10,000 mothers and children in the United Kingdom showed that breastfed children exhibit fewer behavioral problems when they are older.” (Mansbacher, 2012) Another benefit to women as a result of breastfeeding is they have less trouble losing weight after pregnancy, have lower incidences of breast, ovarian and uterine cancer in their lifetime, and are less likely to develop osteoporosis. (Mansbacher, 2012) The cost of using formula is far more expensive then the costs associated with breastfeeding. This is another major reason to do it, especially as a low income mother. However governmental programs have driven some women away from breastfeeding as they provide formula free of charge and tend to make it easier for the young mother to not breastfeed. The benefits of breastfeeding haven’t necessarily changed over time they have just evolved. The information we have now to prove that breast is best is overwhelming compared to before; when it was done out of necessity and lack of substitutions for the child.
Imagine being an African American woman a hundred years ago and having the task of nursing a white woman’s child until they were eight months old. While at the same time caring for your infant children it could be exhausting to be of such service, often still forced to work in the fields too. Wet nursing was usually only present in the homes of the wealthy and upper-class citizens. Other cases where a wet nurse might be required were if the mother died during pregnancy which was quite common back then. Also if the mother died another result would be the infant would die; until they discovered formula and alternate ways to feed an infant without mother’s milk. “By the 1800’s scientists and doctors began to investigate what was needed in food mixes for babies to thrive. In 1867, the first commercially available baby food was created by Justus von Liebig. After that, many other kinds of baby formulas were made.” (“Breastfeeding-mom.com," 2010) The availability of formula became very common and many women began using the products instead of breastfeeding because it was just easier. “These formulas worked so well, that women began to use them instead...