Actresses are doing an amazing job opening up dialogue about breastfeeding. Both Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie have been in the news for breastfeeding babies. Salma Hayek was videoed breastfeeding an African baby that was starving because the baby’s mother’s milk had dried up. Angelina Jolie was photographed a few months ago breastfeeding one of her twin babies. That photo got cover page of W Magazine which led to a controversy over whether breastfeeding should be shown in public because it is a beautiful part of life or if it should be hidden because breasts are for more than a baby’s food.
Salma Hayek was not breastfeeding one of her own children though. She has opened a new world of controversy over cross-nursing. Cross-nursing is done in many cultures although in America it is viewed as taboo. There has been a stigma attached to cross-nursing by Americans because of social class ranks in history where higher classes of people would render the services of a wet-nurse. Wet-nursing came with social class issues as well as the idea that a woman’s body was being purchased. It grew akin to prostitution in the eyes of Americans.
This leads us to wonder how taboo cross-nursing is and was Salma Hayek breastfeeding another woman’s child really taboo?
Donations of breast milk are growing in America and these donations are being used to feed hungry babies who have been orphaned, whose mothers do not have enough milk and to feed babies whose mothers cannot breastfeed due to complications. Nadya Suleman, the woman who had octuplets, has been giving the 8 new babies donated breast milk to drink. The organization Human Milk Banking Association of North America has been screening, distributing and donating breast milk to hospitals across the U.S. and Canada. The only difference between donated breast milk and cross-nursing are the breast involved. Perhaps the controversy would not have started if Salma Hayek chose not to breastfeed the starving baby directly from her breast but instead chose to pump milk into a bottle first.
La Leche League, whom are big advocates of breast feeding mothers, have stated that they “shall not ever suggest an informal milk-donation arrangement, including wet-nursing or cross-nursing.” There are health and psychological risks involved with cross-nursing according to La Leche’s website.
The debate that Salma Hayek breastfeeding has drummed up has gone both ways on the issue of cross-nursing. Mothering.com has members screaming praise for what Salma Hayek is doing for breastfeeding mothers but on the opposite end we have websites like EW.com which are giving it a silly award. They the youtube video of Salma Hayek breastfeeding “the “biggest eyebrow-raiser” award.
Although Salma Hayek’s breastfeeding was done to feed a starving baby it was also done to prove a point to African men. It seems in this culture that sex is linked to breastfeeding. Men of Africa have put a stigma upon women that if they are breastfeeding they cannot be sexually active. In turn many African women stop breastfeeding for their husbands. Salma Hayek’s breastfeeding was done in part to lift this stigma off African women and also to erase the taboo of cross-nursing.
I give Salma Hayek credit. She is a beautiful woman who not only may have saved the life of one child by giving it the food it needed but by showing African mothers that you can still be sexy and breastfeed at the same time. I also give Salma credit for being willing to take the flack that will come with the cross nursing controversy. How do you feel about Salma Hayek’s breastfeeding of another woman’s baby?
Time Story with YouTube Video