Miami, Florida, USA: An American model, Mara Martin, breastfed her baby daughter on a Miami catwalk while walking the runway at a Sports Illustrated swimsuit show on Sunday
In a country where many women still feel uncomfortable nursing in public, Mara Martin stepped out in a sparkling gold bikini while breastfeeding five-month-old Aria, kitted out for the occasion in green swimwear and noise-cancelling headphones.
In an Instagram post a day later, Martin expressed thanks for the positive public response – which outweighed the smattering of posts on her social media feed criticising the move as “not appropriate” or even “gross.”
“I can’t believe I am waking up to headlines with me and my daughter in them for doing something I do every day,” Martin wrote. “It is truly so humbling and unreal to say the least. I’m so grateful to be able to share this message and hopefully normalize breastfeeding and also show others that women CAN DO IT ALL!”
According to Martin and organisers in an interview Tuesday, it was a spontaneous decision to breastfeed Aria on the runway.
“She was getting a little hungry and it was her dinner time, because the show kept getting pushed back,” Martin said.
So when one of the team suggested she go ahead and nurse her on the runway, she said yes.
The debate over public breastfeeding regularly resurfaces in the United States, where women are strongly encouraged to nurse their babies, even though many return to work within weeks of giving birth.
While all but a handful of US states give legal protection to mothers who breastfeed in public, much of society remains squeamish about the practice.
Cases of women being asked to cover up while feeding babies in restaurants, in stores or on public transport sporadically make headlines in the country – with “nurse-ins” held in protest to demand wider acceptance of the practice.
A study in The Lancet found that universal breast-feeding would prevent 800,000 child deaths a year across the globe and yield $300 billion in savings from reduced health care costs and improved economic outcomes for those reared on breast milk.
The unique composition of a mother’s breast milk may help to reduce food sensitization in her infant, report researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine with colleagues in Canada. The findings further highlight the health role of human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), which are not found in infant formula, and underscore their potential for therapeutic interventions.The study found an association between human oligosaccharides and sensitization in 1-year-old infants
The World Health Organization, WHO, recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life ,and partial breastfeeding for two years or more. A spokesperson for the organization, Tarik Jašarević, says that globally, only about 40% of babies under 6 months old are exclusively breastfed. “If all infants under the age of 6 months were exclusively breastfed, we estimate that about 820,000 child lives would be saved every year,” Jašarević said.
“Breastfeeding is the normal way of providing young infants with the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. Virtually all mothers can breastfeed, provided they have accurate information, and the support of their family, the health care system and society at large.
Colostrum, the yellowish, sticky breast milk produced at the end of pregnancy, is recommended by WHO as the perfect food for the newborn, and feeding should be initiated within the first hour after birth.
Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.” WHO says.
“Breastfeeding provides unmatched health benefits for babies and mothers. It is the clinical gold standard for infant feeding and nutrition, with breast milk uniquely tailored to meet the health needs of a growing baby. We must do more to create supportive and safe environments for mothers who choose to breastfeed.” said Dr. Ruth Petersen, Director of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity
Only 1 in 4 infants is exclusively breastfed as recommended by the time they are 6 months old. Low rates of breastfeeding add more than $3 billion a year to medical costs for the mother and child in the United States according to the CDC.
Infants who are breastfed have reduced risks of asthma, obesity, type 2 diabetes, ear and respiratory infections and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) while breastfeeding can help lower a mother’s risk of Heart disease, type 2 diabetes, ovarian cancer and breast cancer, CDC says.
‘”The percentage of babies who start out breastfeeding increased from 73% in 2004 to 83% in 2014. The percentage of births in hospitals with recommended maternity care practices that support breastfeeding increased from 1.8% in 2007 to 22.2% in 2017.” CDC says.
“Given the importance of breastfeeding on the health of mothers and children, it is critical that we take action to support breastfeeding. Only through the support of family, communities, clinicians, healthcare systems, and employers will we be able to make breastfeeding the easy choice.” Dr. Jerome M. Adams, U.S. Surgeon General concludes.