The importance of breastfeeding is touted in research reports, and women are taking notice. Over the years the percentage of women breastfeeding has risen to over 75%, though researchers still recommend moms feed baby from the breast longer than many moms are. Still, women are attempting to nurse their children, and that's a plus.
As is true with anything, breastfeeding is prone to follow trends. In fact, even the number of women who breastfeed tends to rise and fall with the trend of the time, and in the days when breastfeeding was seen as a low-class option, many women didn't try to nurse their children. Now that the undeniable benefits are out there, many moms give it a shot and have the support of baby-friendly hospitals and lactation specialists.
The trends we see in breastfeeding now are interesting and seeping into the present conversations about nursing. Some are beneficial, some are actions of protest, and some are so over-the-top that they may not continue trending for long. However, there has been a rise in these activities, giving them the spotlight in the breastfeeding world.
While mom may have heard of a few of these trends since they have been around or are coming back into style after years away, others are unique to the times we live in or just now popular enough to be noticed. Mom may even see some of her activities on this list if she nurses her baby, making her a breastfeeding trendsetter.
15 Cross Nursing
People lost their minds when actress Salma Hayek nursed a baby that wasn't hers on a trip to Sierra Leone. The child was hungry, and the mom could not produce milk, so Hayek stepped in to offer assistance.
What Hayek did was called cross nursing, and many women do this for each other. In fact, when one mom is low on breast milk and another mom is available to nurse, many women will simply pass their baby to the mom with plenty of milk at the time.
Studies show that unlike Hayek's situation, cross nursing tends to take place between women who know each other well. Friends who are nursing children at the same time may help each other out when needed so their child can continue nursing. It's a situation where each one is available for the other when need be, and it keeps a child off of formula if that is what mom desires.
Lactation specialists, however, warn against cross nursing. A child nursing from someone who is not their mother can contract a communicable disease from the breast milk. For this reason, many people recommend against it.
14 Wet Nurse
Wet nursing is often thought to be a habit of a bygone time, but one quick Internet search will reveal that plenty of women still wet nurse. Wet nursing is when a mom who is already producing milk because they are nursing their own child takes on nursing another mother's child or children. This is done so babies whose moms can't nurse can still receive the benefits of breast milk.
While this was common during certain times in history, wet nursing is making a comeback, and the women who are offering themselves as wet nurses are making cash! As opposed to cross nursing, where another mother might help out on occasion but the primary breastfeeding responsibility falls on the mom, wet nurses do all of the nursing for mom.
This is an agreement that can last for months or years depending on what mom and the wet nurse want to do.
13 Milk Donation
This is a trend that needs to stay forever! Moms are donating their breast milk to milk banks so children who are premature or critically ill can have the immune building substance fed to them. It's a wonderful gift to offer, and many moms are excited to be able to help.
Moms sometimes pump and freeze breast milk, then they don't need it but don't want it to go to waste. Since milk can only be frozen for so long, they will donate it to a milk bank so babies who don't have any or enough breast milk can consume it.
Moms sometimes also produce way more milk than they need, and they pump to keep their breast milk from backing up and causing clogged ducts or mastitis. In these cases, donating that milk is also an option.
It's even possible for moms to wean their child but continue pumping for a while to provide milk to babies who need it. Milk banks will make sure the milk is safe and doesn't carry any diseases, then they will distribute it to babies in need.
We know what women are capable of when they unite and mobilize. Imagine these woman are breastfeeding moms who have just been told they can't breastfeed in a public place, even though they are legally allowed to. The unification and mobilization is fierce and effective.
Moms are now scheduling nurse-ins, the equivalent of a sit-in protest, but instead of sitting, these women spend the time protesting with their milk. They nurse their children at locations where people have tried to deny them their legal right to do so, and in doing this they bring attention to society's problem with women's nursing breasts.
Nurse-ins are becoming more common as women refuse to feed their children in a public bathroom stall or in an isolated area. When employees complain or ask mom to leave, more moms show up to nurse their children in public at the location so they will understand we won't we be denied the right to feed our children from the breast.
11 Tandem Nursing
For women who want to nurse their children for a certain period of time, becoming impregnated again and adding another child to the mix can be a problem. However, many moms are finding a way around it: tandem feeding.
Tandem feeding means feeding two children from the breast at the same time, even if they are a different age. While moms also tandem feed twins, the kind of tandem feeding we are talking about is a mom breastfeeding both a newborn and a toddler, or some other scenario where the children are not both newborns.
This happens when mom is hoping to keep the breastfeeding relationship with her oldest going strong, but still wants to nurse her baby.
Tandem feeding offers mom the opportunity to follow the World Health Organizations guideline to nurse a child until they are at least two years of age, even if she becomes expectant again quickly. For most women, nursing through pregnancy is safe, so if she is physically up to nursing more than one child, this is an excellent option.
10 Extended Nursing
The cover of Time Magazine that featured a mom nursing her toddler son earned a mixed response from readers, with many shocked and dismayed at this display of extended breastfeeding. However, the facts support the practice of nursing children to the age of two and beyond for maximum health benefits.
Extended nursing is gaining traction in mainstream society due not only to the health benefits, but to how much easier it can make the weaning process. Many children who are breastfed until they are a bit older are able to express their feelings about the weaning process and talk through their emotions with mom when it's time. Some of them even wean themselves.
Extended nursing also ensures children receive necessary nutrients, because even though kids can eat table food, they don't always choose the right ones. If a child is rejecting every other form of healthy sustenance, mom can still make sure she is providing him with nutrient-rich milk for growth and development.
9 Working Breastfeeders
Though breastfeeding may have been seen as something only stay-at-home moms can do, today's moms are putting that lie to rest. Choosing to go back to the workforce is not stopping moms from nursing, and that is good for mama and her baby!
Women now are more likely to let their bosses know they will need a place to pump and will demand their breaks to make sure they have time to express milk for their child. Because the benefits of breastfeeding are widely known and moms are encouraged to nurse as long as they can, employers have no excuse for refusing mom her right to pump, and they can land in hot water if they do.
The breast pumps on the market make pumping efficiently easier, and being able to still provide breast milk even when mom returns to work can make the transition less complicated for all involved.
8 Nursing On Demand
There was a period of time when parenting books focused on controlling a baby's schedule, down to when they were allowed to eat. This was said to benefit mom because she would have time between feedings, and it was said to help the baby develop a routine. However, more moms are nursing on demand now because the benefits to both mom and baby are much greater.
Nursing on demand means nursing when the baby wants to. Infants can tell us when they are hungry, and many moms feel like it's not wise to ignore those signs. Nursing on demand allows a baby to feel secure that he will be fed when desired, and it also ensures extra cuddles if that is what baby wants.
For mom, nursing on demand means having her milk come in easier, as well as her body producing what the baby needs since the little one is calling the shots. Plus, babies will put themselves on a routine that works for them, and it will change when they go through growth spurts. That's perfectly normal, and mom will learn to roll with the changes.
7 Co-Sleeping Breastfeeding
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies sleep in the same room as their parents for at least six months, longer if possible, to avoid sleep-related deaths in babies. However, many nursing moms have been doing this already to help them keep baby close for convenient nursing. In fact, many moms co-sleep during the breastfeeding years so baby and mom can rest.
Moms who breastfeed and co-sleep, of course, need to set up a safe way for this to take place. A side car style crib can be attached to mom and dad's bed to give their child his own room, but when it's time for him to nurse mom can easily scoop him into her bed for a snack. She can then put him back in his attached crib and keep him close for the next feeding.
6 Cover Free Breastfeeding
There are some very cute breastfeeding covers on the market. Mom can basically put the equivalent a decorated rain poncho on over her shoulders and breastfeed her baby without anyone seeing her nurse.
However, many moms and babies don't love this set up and are going for the natural, uncovered approach. Babies often try to lift the cover to see mom's face, and that is normal since part of the allure of nursing is the connection between mom and baby and the eye contact they share.
Moms also don't like drawing more attention to themselves using a cover when they can just casually pull their tops down.
Plus, breastfeeding in public is not illegal. It's fine. Using a cover is a great idea for the mom who wants to, but moms shouldn't feel pressured to by anyone else.
5 Adult Breastfeeding
In China, adults who want to consume breast milk for the health benefits can log onto websites where lactating ladies offer their services. This has become a practice for wealthy adults who feel that breast is best, even for those who are WAY out of the baby range.
The problem is the milk is often bought from moms who are poor, and these women may not feed their children enough breast milk so they will have some left to sell. It's a complicated issue that grew even more controversial when some of the sites selling breast milk were also found to be offering some "favors" on the side.
While the practice of selling breast milk is technically legal, there are many who feel it isn't appropriate. Though it's true that breast milk can have health benefits, even for adults, there is the question of whether or not extra milk should be given to adults when there are always children who can use it.
4 Social Media Breastfeeding
With breastfeeding becoming somewhat less taboo, pictures of moms breastfeeding can be found on social media. Though some sites have tried to have them banned, saying they are indecent, if mom covers her areola, she can still get away with posting them.
Many women have brought up the hypocrisy of a culture that has no problems with pictures of near topless women on social media, but will shame a mom if she posts a picture nursing her child. The anger over this topic has caused many women to go out of their way to show themselves nursing their children.
While some feel breastfeeding is private, with social media nothing is truly private, and if mom spends a large portion of her time nursing a child, it's likely she will be in pictures doing just that. Luckily, people are less likely to have an immediate negative response than they were a few years ago before this was common.
3 Nursing Photo Shoots
Breastfeeding pictures are not just selfies taken for social media purposes. Many women are scheduling nursing photo shoots where they have a professional photographer snap pictures of them nursing. It's a beautiful way to capture a moment in time, and it's also nice to have a picture of mom nursing when she is actually made up and not just wearing sweats covered in leftover milk.
Nursing photo shoots are a trend that will hopefully stick around since it is just another way to stop stigmatizing breastfeeding. While not for every mom, many love having the pictures to look back on when the nursing years are over, and many photographers are fine taking these kinds of pictures. In fact, fellow moms who are also photographers are able to help moms find just the right positions for the photos they desire.
2 Breastfeeding Support
Breast is best, and this fact that has been substantiated by research reports is helping moms receive necessary breastfeeding support. From lactation specialists to baby-friendly hospitals, from time to pump at work to campaigns to raise awareness about breastfeeding, moms are living in a time when breastfeeding support is available everywhere they turn.
It's true that some women will still encounter rude comments or people who stare at them when they feed their child, but they are just as likely to encounter support from other moms and encouragement from their doctors. Even store and restaurant owners know they will suffer if they shame moms and tell them to cover up, so people think twice now before the wrath of angry nursing women comes down on them.
For the mom who doesn't have support but desperately needs it, contacting a local La Leche League or reaching out to a birthing center or hospital to see if they know of support groups helps.
1 Better Pumping And Nursing Locations
For years moms were expected to pump in restrooms when they went back to work. They were supposed to pump their child's food next to a public toilet, many times while trying to eat themselves. It was not an ideal set up, nor a sanitary one.
Now, even malls sometimes have nursing rooms where mom can take a break, enjoy a comfy chair, and either nurse or pump for her child. Churches are also adding pumping or nursing rooms so moms can watch the church service separate from the crowd so they can nurse privately with other moms.
These steps in the right direction help encourage moms to nurse longer and to not feel ashamed to let their bodies do what nature created them to. Women have been breast feeding their babies for centuries, and there is no reason to make it difficult for women today.
Sources: Whattoexpect, LaLecheLeague, CDC, Medicaldaily