In a 1977 episode of Sesame Street, famous Cree singer Buffy Sainte-Marie explains breastfeeding to Big Bird, while feeding her baby.
In recent decades, however, those educational segments have been replaced with bottle feeding. Now, an increasing number of parents are calling for the return of breastfeeding to the popular children’s program, reported Jezebel.
“It would help normalize breastfeeding to a culture that has completely sexualized breastfeeding,” the blog Boobie Time explains.
So far, the online petition, “Bring breastfeeding back to Sesame Street,” has gathered more than 7,000 signatures. Its goal is 8,500. The petition clarifies the aim isn’t to remove images of bottle feeding from the show, but for breastfeeding to be shown as well. The petition states: “If we normalize breastfeeding in our community, especially with our children, we can help raise a generation of breastfeeders which will support our economy, make for healthier children and lessen the risk of breast cancer for many nursing mamas!”
Last year Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin issued a call to make nursing easier for mothers.
Dr. Benjamin’s initiative highlights the need for greater cultural support for nursing in the home, at work, and in everyday life. “One of the most highly effective preventive measures a mother can take to protect her child and her own health is to breast-feed,” Benjamin said.
Scientific studies have shown that breast milk helps bolster a child’s immune system, protects against obesity in babies, reduces the risk of seizures, pneumonia, diarrhea, ear infections and asthma. It is also correlated with a lowered risk of ovarian and breast cancer in mothers.
Many American women have been pushed away from their natural breast-feeding roots, according to federal officials. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius hit on this point in a report accompanying the surgeon general’s call to action, noting that, “for much of the last century, America’s mothers were given poor advice and were discouraged from breast-feeding, to the point that [it] became an unusual choice in this country.” That problem, said Rosebud Bear, the lactation counselor for the American Indian Health and Family Services center in Detroit, has been compounded for low-income women and those with less education—two more consequences of colonization that have tended to hit Native women disproportionately.
Read more about “Breast-feeding’s Role in Taking Back Native Culture.”