Cultures

Brazil Is For Breastfeeding And They Want You To Know It

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Brazilian woman of African descent, smiling, dressed in traditional Baiana attire in Pelourinho, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

Image: Shutterstock/R.M. Nunes

Brazil Is For Breastfeeding And They Want You To Know It

It’s no secret that there’s a lot of controversy in the United States on whether women should breastfeed in public. And there’s the Free The Nipple campaign which aims to empower women on this topic and more. In Brazil, there’s no controversy at all (now). We’re not talking about barely exposing themselves just enough for their babies, but we’re talking about tugging down their tank tops for everyone to see in plain view. The country wasn’t always this accepting of breastfeeding, but they’ve gone through a cultural shift in the past two decades.

This sentiment toward breastfeeding in Brazil is most likely the reason why more mothers breastfeed their children here than in America. In fact, most Brazilian women exclusively breastfeed their babies until they’re six months old, compared to only sixteen percent in American women. For Brazilian women who don’t have enough milk themselves, the country has 214 milk banks spread throughout Brazil where mothers can go to buy breast milk that was donated by other women.

In addition to selling breast milk, Brazil bans the advertisement or promotion of infant formula. Infant formula products are also banned from labeling their milk as “ideal for your baby.” Businesses or organizations that ban women from breastfeeding in public will even get fined.

mom breast feeding her baby girl and holding her hand

Image: Shutterstock/Marlon Lopez MMG1 Design

The infant mortality rate in Brazil has been cut back by more than two-thirds in the past twenty years, which many credit to the country’s positivity toward breastfeeding. Before these positive changes were made, poor Brazilian women would sell their breast milk for money and leave their own children malnourished. They would also opt for cheap infant formula that was mixed with bad quality water. The World Health Organization states that babies should exclusively breastfeed for the first six months of their lives. But this can be difficult if the act itself is looked down upon by culture. Brazil sets a prime example in its efforts toward making breastfeeding not only socially acceptable, but also encouraged.
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Kate Wilke is the content manager at 301brands, and she's the editor of DailyBeautyHack.com, and the lifestyle editor at OhMyVeggies.com. When she's not paddle boarding or skiing, she's informing someone about global warming (or cats) over a local double IPA. Follow her on Instagram — @kateewilke