Mamas everywhere, rejoice! Public breastfeeding is now legal in 50 states, USA Today reports.
The breast and nipple have long been sexualized and shamed in public spaces, even when they are being used for their biological purpose–to feed babies. But now American mothers can breathe a slight sigh of relief. Idaho and Utah were the latest states to legalize public breastfeeding.
Expectedly, the decision did not come without opposition from male politicians. Idaho attempted to legalize public breastfeeding 15 years ago, but the decision was shot down because lawmakers feared women would just “whip it out and do it anywhere.”
Republican Representative Paul Amador criticized the move, saying, “Personally, I find it disappointing that we’re in 2018 and we still haven’t passed this law in Idaho. I think we can take a proactive stance here through legislation to promote the natural bond and health benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child. I also believe the health and nutritional choices of our families are best left as decisions for our families, not our government.”
While public, convenient breastfeeding is now legally accepted, there are still racial disparities when it comes to breastfeeding mamas. A 2010 study showed that 62% of Black mamas were breastfeeding, compared to 79% of white mothers. Social scientists believe the gap can be linked to several circumstances, ranging from hospitals inadequately educating Black mothers on nursing, to deceptive formula marketing strategies aimed at the Black community.
Pat Shelly, director of The Breastfeeding Center, an organization that provides nursing education, told HuffPo the racial discrepancy could also be associated with financial factors.
“Education, money and family support are huge equalizers,” Shelly explained, emphasizing the importance of access to high-quality health care and breastfeeding education as key factors in bridging the gap.
Perhaps with the removal of the social and legal stigma surrounding breastfeeding, in combination with the increase in breastfeeding advocacy education programs across socio-economic classes, women of all backgrounds and their children can benefit from this natural and beneficial feeding method.
SOURCE: HUFF PO, USA Today