Grammy Award-winning singer Alanis Morissette thinks "you oughta know" about something a bit more important than her terrible breakup 20 years ago: breastfeeding. To honor World Breastfeeding Week and support the beauty of nursing freely, the 40-year-old Canadian posted a happy throwback photo of her breastfeeding her son Ever from a trip through Europe in 2012.
The photo shows her son, now three, being cheerfully breastfed in a car. The accompanying Instagram caption, which also tagged renowned pediatrician and infant nutrition expert Jay Gordon, read: "family on tour ;) europe 2012 #worldbreastfeedingweek #isupportyou @msjamielynne #everlovedhischakraglasses @jaygordonmdfaap"
World Breastfeeding Week, which runs from August 1-7 this year, started in 1996. Since then, many international health organizations have embraced the week as an opportunity to promote the health benefits newborns receive from breastfeeding.
The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding starting within one hour after birth until a baby is at least six months old, while the World Bank endorses breastfeeding because it potentially reduces deaths among children under five by about 20%.
Image Credit: The International Rescue Committee
But despite the well-known health benefits, breastfeeding in public has long created a stir in America. One of the most prominent recent lawsuits in the matter was filed in 2006 after Emily Gillette was escorted off a Delta Airlines flight because she refused to use a blanket while breastfeeding her daughter on a window seat. But there have been countless other situations in the ensuing years in which women have been told to leave conventions and restaurants for feeding their infants.
Federal law requires employers "to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child's birth each time such employee has need to express milk," according to the National Council of State Legilstures. In addition, 46 different states protect the rights of mothers to breastfeed in public or in private.
And yet the stigma continues, it seems, egged on by those who argue that public breastfeeding is obscene or somehow titillating. The support of celebrity mothers like Morisette, fellow rock star Gwen Stefani and new mommy Olivia Wilde may be helping to change this culture, as are advocacy efforts like Project Breastfeed's photoshoot of dads and Cafe Mom's endearing slideshow of women in different everyday situations breastfeeding in public.
Image Credit: Project Breastfeeding
For a long time, Facebook took down photos of breastfeeding moms, even when the photos were just shared with friends and family. That policy was recently updated, however. "We agree that breastfeeding is natural and beautiful and we're glad to know that it's important for mothers to share their experiences with others on Facebook," the site now proclaims.