Tag Archive | Breastfeeding

If men breastfed

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My 3-year-old son asked me:

“Why can’t men breastfeed?”

“Well, because only women have breasts.”

“No. (Showing me his nipple): I have a breast, too.”

Of course, explaining to a little child about mammary glands and more was too much. I laughed but asked myself: why does the male human have nipples, after all?

For my surprise, it wasn’t just a “child’s doubt”. There are people doing serious researches and also publishing books about the theme. I found out, too, that it is actually more a matter of hormones than of mammary structures (fact: due to the maternal hormones during the gestation, boys can be born with milk inside their little breasts, and newborn girls can have a “pseudo-menstruation”).

I even found out cases of men who breastfed their kids. Have you ever thought about what could happen if it becomes commonplace?

Man breastfeeding his baby

If men breastfed…

… the care for the newborns could be shared. Father and mother would take turns nursing. With bigger intervals, the nipple fissures would have more time to recover.

… while one nurses, the other could take care of the oldest kids, attenuating the jealousy among brothers.

… the maternity leave would be for the couple. So, there would be no more discrimination on the labor market, since the conditions would be the same for men and women.

… the exclusive breastfeeding for twins and triplets (so common nowadays) would be easier.

… in case of impediments for the mother, this time would be calmer.

… the milk banks would have more donors.

… breastfeeding in public would be seen as natural, and not as “indecent exposure”. By the way, men usually take their shirts off.

… men would be able to feel more intimately the physical link with their children.

… children could indistinctly call “mom” and “dad”.

That last topic deserves reflection. We women always complain about the overweight and incomprehension from men. Would we mothers, however, be inclined to share that power? the power of being exclusive in the children’s preference?

More: would women approve a legion of such “maternal” men? A quick look at the photos with men breastfeeding automatically causes some discomfort.

Man breastfeeding his son

Since men don’t breastfeed…

… they literally don’t feel what it is and, because of that, in order to comprehend the dimension of the task, they need to be INCLUDED in the process.

Let’s remember that breastfeeding is a very recent thing in our postwar society. Men just don’t understand the importance of raising this flag. Before the immense disrespect to women, an angry reaction can be natural and the most probable. Although, as my mother says, “don’t worry about the chaos; put in it the missing element.”

Diminishing men, judging them as “Homers Simpsons”, selfish, weak before pain, rowdy, inept, rude or violent people DOES NOT HELP. At least, we stay at a nil-nil draw.

Only observing the current place of men and trying to equal them with truculence and meanness are not the best way for women to find their place. I have two boys and definitely it’s not the legacy I hope to give to this generation. If I keep attached to this imagery and harp on about the same distorted values of a sickly society, what can I expect from my kids? that they become “Homers Simpsons”?

That’s the reason why I believe in a mutual respect posture.

I end this post with the phrase I said to my 3 year-old son:

“You won’t be able to breastfeed, but you will be able to hug your little kid very tight, in order for him to hear your heart. In the same way your Daddy does with you.”

Baby sleeping on his father's chest

Nivea Baby ad: heart with heart


You can also see:

A short and bald guy

Love is…

Because we are mammals

This post in Portuguese: Se os homens amamentassem

Breastfeeding social campaigns: a serious and honest analysis

World Breastfeeding Week

Year – Brazilian godmother of the campaign Slogan
1999 – Luiza Brunet (top model)amamentação Luiza Brunet cartaz1999 Breastfeeding is educating for life. Let’s re-learn!
2000 – Glória Pires (actress)Brazilian actress breastfeeding Breastfeeding. Good for the mother. Better for the baby.
2001 – Isabel Fillardis (actress)Brazilian actress breastfeeding Breastfeeding. A very special way of communication.
2002 – Claudia Rodrigues (actress)Brazilian actress breastfeeding Breastfeeding is giving your baby health in the form of love.
2003 – Luiza Thomé (actress)Brazilian actress breastfeeding Breastfeeding. Health and peace for a better world.
2004 – Maria Paula (actress and writer)Brazilian actress breastfeeding Until your baby is six months old, the shift from the right breast to the left one must be the only change in his/her feeding.
2005 – Vera Viel e Maria Paula (actresses)Brazilian actresses breastfeeding Until your baby is six months old, he/she only needs breast milk. After this, offer other foods and keep breastfeeding.
2006 – Cássia Kiss (actress)Brazilian actress breastfeeding Breastfeeding. Assuring this right is everybody’s responsibility.
2007 – Vanessa Lóes (with Thiago Lacerda) (actress and actor)Brazilian actress breastfeeding with her husband Breasfeeding in the first hour, protection without delay.
2008 – Dira Paes (and mother) – actressBrazilian actress breastfeeding Nothing is more natural than breastfeeding. Nothing is more important than supporting.
2009 – Claudia Leitte (singer)Brazilian singer breastfeeding Breastfeeding at all moments. More health, love and protection.
2010 – Wanessa Cristina and other mothersThree woman; two pregnant woman with another one breastfeeding Breastfeed. Give your child the best.

Social campaigns for donation of expressed breast milk – Ministry of Health Services – Brazilian Government

2008 – Camila Pitanga (actress)Brazilian actress breastfeeding and donating expressed milk Donate expressed milk, life thanks you.
2009 – Samara Fillipo (actress)Brazilian actress breastfeeding Donate expressed breast milk, life thanks you.


The posters aim:

  • Valuing (and even glamourizing) breastfeeding;
  • Enlightening the benefits for both mother and child;
  • Emphasizing the advantages of breast milk;
  • Expressly recommending exclusive breastfeeding until the baby is six months old;
  • Calling for the responsibility of all of the people involved: father, other relatives, employer.

Important, worthy, opportune, necessary, amazing, inspiring: all of those things were more than revered in those campaigns. However, there are other aspects beyond the UNQUESTIONABLE example of beautiful social marketing campaign, which deserve an analysis.

The poster in 2010 calls for attention because it is the first in a series, for 12 years, that shows mothers who are not celebrities. Also, there is a black person as the central figure. Images of breastfeeding are essentially “white”; the exception is Isabel Fillardis, in 2001.

Another new thing in 2010 is the presence of pregnant women, i.e., breastfeeding is an attitude to be embraced early in gestation.

The third different feature is the breastfeeding mother looking at the baby (even if in the smaller picture). Mostly, mothers are not looking at the babies, but at the spectator, reinforcing the appeal, when they act as spokespeople of the campaign (the exception is the poster with Vanessa Lóes and the ones for milk donation). This behavior also denotes an incisive pose for the photo, an artificial moment as well as the mother’s highlight, the hero who deserves be applauded and followed. Colors, environment, smiles, everything contributes to the atmosphere of serenity and delight, and leads to the understanding that breastfeeding is a natural fact/act since the beginning/always and has no difficulties – even when there are twins (Luiza Tomé) or big children (Maria Paula).

The mother who doesn’t see that atmosphere when she tries to breastfeed (she feels pain, sore nipples, breast engorgement, fissures, fatigue, lack of support, instead) thinks that something is wrong – with her.

Positive changes are a good beginning in the campaigns. Yet what really is absent in all posters is something beyond the phrase “for further information, please call…” with telephone numbers or websites. A crucial recommendation is not explicit on those posters: “In case of difficulties, please call…”

As in all good ads, nobody wants to talk about problems. This analysis intends to focus on the help, the support. The mothers may check the credibility of the campaign, when they cannot reproduce the perfect spirit in the pictures, and even give up, thinking that breastfeeding is only for celebrities (who enjoy a whole universe, which is not accessible for “mortal” women).

(Actually, that information is available, in the material for health professionals. It was not created for the public at large. Ministry of Health Services – Brazilian Government issued a great, honest and plural primer, with “people like us”; so different from the posters! It’s worth visiting it:   Cartilha de Amamentação –   in Portuguese.)


You can also see:

Because we are mammals – analysis

Because we are mammals – Marusia speaks

This post in Portuguese: Campanhas de amamentação – uma análise séria e franca

Advice I love

girls dressed as fairies

By Anne Guedes

Pregnant women and first-time mothers (and even the third-time mothers like me) are target for rains of advice. Sometimes, many interventions, from many sources and such varied contents can really cause confusion. But now I want to talk about “winning” advice, the ones that made and keep making the difference to me and I wish to share: advice I love.

From my sister Maria: “Don’t wait for your belly to grow to rub moisturizer.”

The skin must be previously prepared and hydrated, already in the beginning of the pregnancy, when the belly still hasn’t grown yet. So, you prevent sensibility and weakness that origin strias and stains on the skin. Actually, moisturizing is always important, for pregnant and non-pregnant women; we deserve this daily ritual.

From my friend Luciana: “The baby sucks with craving even in the first nursing.”

I had some idea about the difficulties of breastfeeding, mainly in the beginning, but I thought they were due to the nursing frequency, and not because of the suction intensity or the baby’s latch. Luciana’s statement was great and helped me not to be surprised.

From my sister Maria: “Everything goes away.”

In the post-partum, when we feel in the middle of a hurricane, with thousands of hormones under our skin, new incumbencies and never seen before emotions, we can be inclined to doubt that truth. However, if we allow ourselves to accept it, it makes us free. Everything goes away. And goes away fast.

From my friend Daniela, when I was expecting my second child: “When the baby is born, your oldest son will look very big.”

It is correct and valuable. My oldest son was only 2 years old when my daughter was born, but he looked like a giant in comparison to the new-born. The danger, wisely warned by Daniela, is acting as if he were grown-up and mature. The advice was great, to not demand postures and behaviors above his age. After all, he was a baby too, with needs, facing the absolutely new circumstance of his sister’s arrival, with whom he would have to share his parents’ attention.

From my brother Junior: “Children have happiness expiration times.”

Being aware of this wise tip avoids a lot of annoyances. When the “happiness expiration time” is up, it means it’s time to go home and rest. Insisting on doing anything else leads to suffering the consequences of an angry child, who will do everything to drive us crazy, and then the tour loses its purpose. It’s important to remember that, when you take kids to a “grown-up people event”, without activities that include or entertain them, their expiration time is shorter. It partially explains the fits in supermarkets and shopping centers.

From my kids’ pediatrician (who was my own pediatrician, too): “Hug your children.”

Shantala, massage during the bath, the need of being held in the lap, skin-to-skin contact: these things are largely recommended for babies. However, the fondling becomes rare as soon as the child begins to get big. Touching is not only for babies! 8, 9 year-old children, teenagers, even adults need a hug, being taken in the parents’ arms. This is therapeutic, prophylactic. Healing.

From my mother: “If you want to, you can keep your activities, you can work. But it’s very important staying home on your kids’ sleeping time.”

Sleeping time is sacred and has different representations in children’s minds – representations of tenderness, affection, shelter. It’s worth trying it.

And you? Do you have a “winning” advice?


This post in Portuguese: “Conselhos que amei”

Because we are mammals

"Because we are mammals".

In 1996, the Brazilian company Parmalat, that sells dairy products, launched an adorable advertising campaign with children dressed like little animals. The slogan was: “Because we are mammals”.

The advertising power drove Parmalat to the top, as never reached before. The campaign was succeeded by a promotion to give away plush mammals and that made history in the marketing world. Everything was supported by the images of these very cute small children.

Plush mammals of the Parmalat's promotion

Ten years later, Parmalat promoted another campaign, with the same children, in order to tell us how much they had grown up since then.

The mammals grew up!!

The campaign slogan intrigues. Well, mammals nurse, they don’t drink milk from a package.

A question is opened: if this advertising appeal was so irresistible, would the same ads, with the same kids, but announcing breastfeeding, result in the same effect?


You can also see:

Because we are mammals – Marusia speaks

This post in Portuguese: Porque nós somos mamíferos

Because we are mammals – Marusia speaks

Before being a mother, I used to ask myself about the need of making advertising campaigns to encourage breastfeeding. Well, if it’s so super-duper-hyper-ultra-mega good, the perfect food, that is already warm, ready and sterilized, with all the nutrients and antibodies, free, and it also strengthens the mother-baby connection, helps one to get thinner and lots more, who wouldn’t want to breastfeed?

I got all of the answers when I tried to breastfeed my oldest son for the first time after his birth, and he bit me WITH REAL CRAVING. For me, it was succeeded by fever, sore nipples, fissures, shells, banana peels, naked sunbathing, massages, expressing by hand and a mastitis. After 8 + 10 + 11 (3 kids, remember?) months breastfeeding (being 5 + 5 + 5 exclusively, because my “cuties” wouldn’t accept anything else), I think I’m schooled enough to confirm what my sister used to say: “after the first 15 days, it starts to be good.”

It’s really good, but it’s HARD. I don’t agree with any radicalism. And I also think that we should receive an incentive, as the promotion of Parmalat gave: breastfeed and earn a plush mammal. Better yet: earn a cruise to the Caribbeans.

Dolphin in the Caribbeans!


You can also see:

Because we are mammals

This post in Portuguese: Porque nós somos mamíferos – Marusia fala