11 Reasons Why We Need More Breastfeeding On National Television

Ad failed to load

Did you know that nearly 80% of American babies are breastfed at some point? While that number dwindles to just about 19% after babies hit six months of age, the fact remains that a great majority of newborns and infants rely on human nipples for sustenance. Why then, in a television culture lousy with family sitcoms, do we so rarely see breastfeeding on television? If we really want to accurately represent parenthood, we need more breastfeeding on TV. Television enables international communal experiences to be shared and/or experienced, and many of our cultural touchstones revolve around televised content, both fictional and non-fictional. I would love to see the power of this medium harnessed to remind us that not having more familiarity with breastfeeding is the historical aberration.

My desire to see suckling children on TV has nothing to do with some sort of overzealous, judgmental need to shame formula feeding moms or even to shamelessly promote breastfeeding as the end-all-be-all. I still contend that combination feeding my baby was one of my best parenting moves to date, so I really, honestly and truly, don't care how one chooses to nourish a child: just feed them. However, normalizing this natural act as just that, a natural act, lifts a lot of the presumptions, misconceptions, embarrassment and shame that surround breastfeeding and the mothers who do choose it so, honestly, characters breastfeeding on television stands to benefit a lot of people. Here are just a few reasons why:

Ad failed to load

It Will Help To Desexualize Breasts


Speaking as a bisexual woman, I can assure you that breasts can, indeed, be tremendously sexy. Trust: I'm not trying to take sexy boobs away from anyone. But that's not all boobs are. Boobs can, in fact, be quite functional; like being used to sustain another human life for an extended period of time. They can also just kind of be there. It's not like seeing more boobs through a non-sexual lens is going to make them less sexy. Legs and shoulders, for example, are widely considered sexy, and we see those things all the time as we casually go about our days. It's high time we afford female breasts the same opportunity.

The More Views Of Motherhood We Show, The Better

Here's one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to television: female leads becoming pregnant as a means of character development, having the baby, and then never seeing the baby ever again. (We're looking at you, Emma Geller-Green!) It's annoying on a whole bunch of levels. 1) Women can have drama and growth in their lives that have nothing to do with their uterus; and 2) Why bother depicting motherhood if you really never plan to depict motherhood at all? That's not to say that all motherhood must depict breastfeeding, but depicting breastfeeding can perhaps serve as a push to show one of the many ways parents raise their babies.

It Will Lead To More Women On Screen In The First Place


Female characters account for approximately 41% of television characters. When one considers how these women are depicted (whether they speak, what their professions are, what their physical appearance may be, race, age, etc.) things get more depressing. Representation matters, and representing breastfeeding will play a part in bringing more female experiences*, and therefore more women, onto our screens in the first place.

*Though not a uniquely female experience, since there are trans men and non-binary people who breastfeed their children. Dare I dream television can one day share those stories, too?

Ad failed to load

It Will Help To Destigmatize Nursing In Public

Even though every U.S. state has laws protecting a woman's right to nurse anywhere she is legally permitted to be (every state except Idaho so, you know, get your shit together, Idaho), countless women have stories about being shamed for feeding their baby in public. Okay, enough, people: this is juvenile and absurd. Well reasoned arguments and polite corrections haven't worked, but maybe y'all will listen to your beloved television characters if they demonstrate that breastfeeding in public is perfectly fine.

Keeping The Practice Behind Closed Doors Hasn't Done Anyone Any Favors


While breastfeeding rates in the U.S. are on the rise, most women are unable to reach their breastfeeding goals, and I can't help but hypothesize that keeping nursing out of the public eye (and therefore removed from general public consciousness) has a lot to do with that. Of course, this isn't the only factor that contributes to breastfeeding challenges, but it certainly doesn't help.

Our Favorite Characters Nursing On TV Will Ideally Spark More Public And Private Discussion About Breastfeeding

Because seeing will lead to talking, and talking will lead to discussing, and discussing will lead to sharing frustrations, tips, and ideas, and potential ideals and, well, you get the idea.

Ad failed to load

Visibility Will (Ideally) Encourage People To Effect Social Change


Vive la (Breastfeeding) Révolution! Mwahahahahaha! Our feminist machinations finally take root!

Step 1) Get breastfeeding on television

Step 2) Get people to talk about breastfeeding

Step 3) Get people to realize that all the hang-ups society has about breastfeeding are utterly ridiculous

Step 4) Get people to realize that there is a lot society can do to facilitate nursing parents

Step 5) Oppress all the men!

Erm... I mean, no, no, no oppressing men... *shifty eyes*

Shock Value Breastfeeding Scenes Are Getting Annoying

From Carol breastfeeding on Friends to Lysa Arryn breastfeeding her school-age son on Game of Thrones, it seems the only depictions of breastfeeding we see on television are either played as a way to make men uncomfortable or to demonstrate the nursing mother's character flaws. I'm not saying breastfeeding isn't funny (because breastfeeding is really funny) but I'd love to see that humor from another perspective. I want breastfeeding parents to be in on the joke, not the butt of it.

They Did It On Sesame Street, And All Of Television Should Look More Like Sesame Street

NantoVision1 on YouTube

Both Buffy and Maria breastfed on Sesame Street, and you know what? It was awesome. Because Sesame Street is awesome. It's educational, funny, heartfelt, and inclusive. All television (nay, all the world) should look more like Sesame Street and, let's face it, dudes: if Big Bird can observe a breastfeeding mother in person without being scandalized and scarred for life, I'm pretty sure television audiences of all ages can handle it.

Ad failed to load

Breastfeeding Advocates Can Finally Chill The Eff Out

No hate on the lactivists, guys. I'd be deluded if I pretended I wasn't one (I spend a good chunk of my time writing about this very issue). While many mothers who formula feed their babies often say they've been shamed by breastfeeding mothers (which isn't a very kind move, people: knock it off) breastfeeding mothers are in the minority and many of us make up for our smaller numbers by being super-vocal and passionate about our right to nurse and the benefits of breastfeeding. I'm sure, sometimes, that can annoy people and I get it. (Always remember, my lactating comrades: you can be breastfeeding advocate without being a jerk). But once people who have hang-ups about nursing get over their issues, we won't have to insist on making it an issue! Win-win!

It's Just Not A Big Deal, You Guys


Seriously, guys. This isn't a thing. There's no need to make breastfeeding a thing. Let's just make it, "a thing that happens sometimes" and move on.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

7 Hilarious Differences Between Having A Baby In Your 20s Vs Your 30s

I was 24 when I had my daughter. And even though that pregnancy was neither expected nor pleasant, I was optimistic. Sure, I guess your 20s are "supposed" to be about finding yourself, finishing college, starting your career, and navigating less-than…
By Candace Ganger

Babies "R" Us Was The First Place I Went When I Found Out I Would Be A Mom

For years I struggled to have a baby, and the sight of toys and layettes made my heart hurt. For me, Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us were a complete no-go zone, a reminder of everything I was missing out on. My mom would walk the long way around Target…
By Becky Bracken

New Moms Have Two Options: Be "Sad & Fat" Or "Desperate & Thin"

As the line goes, the worst thing you could say about me, I've already thought about myself. In the early postpartum period with my son, it was: "I am overweight, lonely, and heartbroken." It was four days after I brought my son into the world, and I…
By Danielle Campoamor

6 Fascinating Facts About Spring Babies: You Could Have A Leader On Your Hands

Does the season in which you are born affect you or are all seasons pretty equal? It turns out that there are many ways in which the your child's birth season could give you an insight into things to come. Whether you are expecting a baby in the next…
By Shari Maurer

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In April

It's that time of the month again: as March draws to a close, Netflix gets ready for a little bit of spring cleaning. Though some TV shows and movies will have to find homes elsewhere, their departure makes room for all kinds of exciting new media. A…
By Megan Walsh

I'm A Stay-At-Home Mom &, Face It, These 11 Stereotypes Are Totally True

Hello, friends! It's me, your resident stay-at-home mom. You know, there's a lot that's said about me and my kind, and the vast majority of it is not even remotely true. For example, this whole "we're lazy, vapid, unambitious, anti-feminist, backstab…
By Jamie Kenney

The Pressure To Worry About The Gap Between Kids Is So Bad For Moms

"Two under two is absolutely crazy," a friend recently told me upon hearing the news that I was expecting a second child. "Why would you do this to yourself? Seriously, why?" However harsh her words, she was only echoing the same feelings I'd been ba…
By Marie Southard Ospina

To Be Honest, I Couldn't Survive Motherhood Without My Job

The decision to work outside the home once you've become a parent can be a complicated one. Some people don't really have a choice, and go back to work because they're either a single parent or can't sustain their family on one income. Some choose to…
By Priscilla Blossom

I Feel Guilty That My Kid’s Dad Is A Better Parent Than Me, & That’s BS

I was scared, and he was sure. I was clueless, and he was well-researched. I was making mistakes, and he was picking up the pieces. From the moment I found out I was pregnant until just last night, when I threw my hands up in the air and left the alw…
By Danielle Campoamor

These Millennial Parents Are Taking Gender-Neutral Parenting To An Entirely New Level

A woman on the subway looks at my bulbous shape and asks, “What are you having?” I take a deep breath and throw a glance to my 5-year-old. “I’m having a baby,” I say to the woman. “No, no” the woman says laughing as she pushes further. “Are you havin…
By Madison Young

My Daughter Is Obsessed With Being "Pretty" & I'm Way Past Terrified

Last week, when I picked up my daughter after school, she immediately wanted to know if I liked her hair. "Is it pretty?" she asked. Her hair was pulled up into two ponytails that were intertwined into thick, long braids. A shimmering pink and purple…
By Dina Leygerman

7 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 20s, But I Will

I was 24 when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. The pregnancy was a surprise, since I was on birth control (side note: antibiotics and birth control don't mix), but my partner and I decided to continue with the pregnancy and committed to m…
By Candace Ganger

7 Things I Wish My Partner Had Said To Me In The First Hour After Giving Birth

I don't know if it was the buzz of the surrounding machines, the non-existent cry of our son as the doctors tried to resuscitate him, or the fact that I'd already been through labor and delivery once before, but I knew something was missing after I h…
By Candace Ganger

Moms’ Groups Weren’t For Me, Sorry

I go to my moms’ club everyday of the week, but not usually on weekends. My moms' group is a place I can always count on finding fellow mothers who understand the daily struggles and triumphs of parenthood and of juggling life’s responsibilities. Dep…
By Samantha Taylor

Millennial Women Are Getting Married Later Than Gen X, & The Reasons Why Are Pretty Badass

The battle of the generations seems to come up when it comes to every lifestyle or career choice people make. Women, especially, are an important demographic when it comes to analysts looking at the lifestyle choices we make or the expected milestone…
By Josie Rhodes Cook

I've Had 3 Miscarriages But *Please* Keep Telling Me About Your Pregnancy

I can feel the tension the moment my friend announces her pregnancy. I can hear the forced nonchalant attitude she's willing herself to exude as she fishes for the ultrasound. I know why I was the last to learn that she was expecting; why she keeps l…
By Danielle Campoamor

7 Early Signs You're Going To Need An Epidural, According To Experts

Even if you've constructed an elaborate birth plan, it's impossible to control every aspect of labor and delivery. Complications can occur, proactive measures might be necessary, and your mind is subject to change when those damn contractions really …
By Candace Ganger

I'm Pregnant & I Refuse To Read Any Parenting Books

I didn't read any parenting books when I was expecting my daughter, and I refuse to read any parenting books as I await my second child now. I'm the first to admit that I don't really know what I'm doing when it comes to raising my daughter. A good d…
By Marie Southard Ospina

11 Essential Products To Pack In Your Hospital Bag, According To OB-GYNs

The minute you go into labor (or think you're going into labor), chaos ensues. You and your partner are likely to get a little frantic, just like in the movies, so you most definitely want to have a hospital bag packed before the day comes. This prec…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

7 Photos You *Must* Take In The First 6 Months Of Motherhood

In my experience, becoming a mom is like becoming an amateur photographer. There's just something about the need to capture every single coo and sorta-smile that leaves you obsessed with all things photography. I know I couldn't stop taking selfies w…
By Candace Ganger