Caldwell, NJ – Inspired by a recent article in the Herald Sun (Australia) reporting that young women are reluctant to breastfeed their babies due to fear of public embarrassment, the Holistic Moms Network has launched a new project to highlight the beauty and confidence of breastfeeding women. HMN members from across North America submitted photos of themselves proudly breastfeeding their children – everywhere from the Eiffel Tower to the Brooklyn Bridge – for the NursingOurFuture video featured on the organization's website.
"Breastfeeding is one of the greatest gifts a mother can give to her child," says Executive Director Nancy Massotto, Ph.D. "Nursing offers babies enormous health benefits – physically, psychologically, emotionally, and sustainably for the planet. We want young women to embrace a culture of breastfeeding and to become informed about the benefits for moms, for children, and for the planet."
The Herald Sun report indicated that more than half of the Generation-Y men and women polled did not want their children breastfed in public for fear of embarrassment. Despite the World Health Organization's recommendation to breastfeed until at least six months of age, 75 percent of the study's young women stated they were unlikely to do so.
"It's such a shame!" says Dr. Linda Folden Palmer, author of The Baby Bond and new Holistic Moms Network Advisory Board Member. "I actually never saw a baby breastfeed in my 37 years before I nursed my own. I suppose my Chiropractic training helped me to feel comfortable displaying myself breastfeeding, though I almost never saw another nursing mother. One day a nervous mom sat beside me and my 10 month old nursling and started breastfeeding her own child. After several minutes, she turned to me and said she was so excited, she felt so free, that she had never done this before and I gave her the courage to breastfeed publicly! From that point on, I was on a mission to let others see and learn about nursing, everywhere I went. HMN's new effort is aligned with that passion."
Empowering mothers is a cornerstone of the Holistic Moms Network's mission and through the non-profit organization's Chapters, parents gather to offer one another support and advice while also learning about holistic living options from local practitioners and guest speakers. "Being involved in this organization has made me feel accepted in so many ways, and has helped me grow as a person and a parent," says Laurie Cunningham, a member and Co-Leader of the Northern Virginia Chapter.
Breastfeeding is one of the many interests shared by the organization's members, although not all members nurse their babies. "We are a very diverse population and we each make a variety of health and parenting choices," states Dr. Massotto. "We encourage holistic and natural choices, such as breastfeeding, but understand that not all options are available to all parents." The health benefits of breastfeeding are clear and widely supported in the scientific literature. Organizations, health care professionals, and government agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), are "committed to increasing breastfeeding rates across the United States."
"One of the barriers for many young mothers is a lack of awareness about breastfeeding as well as a culture that is not particularly breastfeeding friendly," argues Dr. Massotto. The Holistic Moms Network hopes to raise awareness by showing young women images of breastfeeding and to help them find the support and encouragement they need to continue.
Special Thanks Our thanks and gratitude to the many Holistic Moms members who shared their inspiring and tender breastfeeding photos for this project; to HMN National Team Member Julie Wagner for putting them all together in a beautiful montage; and to breastfeeding mom Catherine Marie Charlton for her moving music.