From the moment of conception, a sacred relationship forms between a mother and her child and for forty long weeks, her nutrition, immunity and maternal love is transferred across the realms of the placenta. After birth, most women can continue to provide this maternal gift of protective antibodies and nourishment by breastfeeding, something that is highly recommended by the NHS for at least six months of the new-born’s life.
The health benefits of natural breast milk compared to that of formula milk are undeniable. Breastfeeding is scientifically proven to significantly reduce the risk of infection, diarrhoea, eczema and the likelihood of obesity in the child. It is also now generally acknowledged that breastfeeding can reduce the risk of breast cancer in the mother from 6·3 to 2·7%.
All that said and done, why are so many mothers still being made to feel uncomfortable for breastfeeding their baby in public? Although women are protected against this discrimination by the Equality Act 2010, which made it illegal for anyone to ask a breastfeeding woman to leave a public place, many mothers will admit to feeling embarrassed and judged for this natural practise.
However, our society seems perfectly accustomed to the naked female form, with the likes of Miley Cyrus revealing all in her music videos and topless models continuing to greet newspaper and magazine readers. Isn’t it time we grow up and stop sexualising a mere nipple so that a mother can nurse her child in peace and comfort?