Breastfeeding is a miraculous and important part of a mother and child’s life. Not only does it provide free food for the growing baby, but it also contains antibodies that can help the child fight off infections. Breastfed infants may even have a lower risk of asthma, allergies, ear infections, respiratory illnesses and diarrhea.

So why aren’t women breastfeeding?

One problem is the sexualized nature of the female body, including breasts. Men (and some women) are instantly confused when they see a woman’s boob being used for its very purpose: to breastfeed.

This needs to change.

Preterm babies and donor breast milk

When a baby is born preterm, the mother often has trouble producing enough milk to support her infant. Hospitals are thus forced to search for alternative methods to which there are few options: formula and donor breast milk.

Indeed, a mother’s own milk would be an ideal form of nourishment, but formula and donor breast milk can be fortified with cow and human milk protein; the latter being better.

Thankfully, human milk banks exist in which women who produce more milk than needed can help out mothers who don’t produce enough.

How should you feel about all of this?

If you feel strange or confused about the ethics of donating breast milk, remind yourself of blood and tissue donations. They’re also based entirely on altruism and have saved millions of lives.

The next time you see a woman breastfeeding in public, don’t stare in disgust (or awe), but instead, learn to recognize and appreciate the fact that she’s doing a wonderful and natural thing for her child.

For more:

Mom didn’t just give you life, she gave you bacteria

Give and take: the ethics of donating breast milk

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