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Historian’s Thread Schooling People Saying Moms Should ‘Just Breastfeed’ Goes Viral

@Cevasco_Carla/Twitter

The recent baby formula shortage in the United States has not only caused a panic among parents and caregivers, but has also reminded us how ignorant much of the population is when it comes to both female anatomy and history.

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If you’ve spent any time on social media during the shortage, you’ve undoubtedly come across insensitive strangers insisting that mothers should simply start breastfeeding their previously formula-fed children again, rather than complain about not being able to buy food at the store. After all, the claim goes, this is what women have done throughout history and the human race is still alive.

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While this outlook obviously ignores situations of adoption, households where the only parent or both parents are men, foster care, and extended family looking after babies, it also fails to take into consideration that sometimes breastfeeding still isn’t possible, and that the past isn’t exactly remembered as a time where infants thrived.

Carla Cevasco, a professor with a PhD who describes herself as “a historian of infant feeding,” hopped on Twitter earlier this month to give these know-it-alls a bit of a lesson. First, she explained that babies actually weren’t always fed with a parent’s breast milk in the past, for a variety of reasons.

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Sometimes, another person would step in — a request that would likely come off as pretty strange in modern society.

Other times, parents had to come up with alternatives to breast milk entirely. This is essentially the same purpose formula currently serves, although the problem in these “good ole days” is that it wasn’t always safe.

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Cevasco also pointed out that the United States doesn’t exactly make it easy for new parents to breastfeed, which frequently impacts the decision to use formula instead.

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Ultimately, she just wanted to remind people that this isn’t a black and white situation, and if they aren’t well-versed in breastfeeding both past and present, it’s wise to listen rather than criticize parents who have suddenly been faced with unexpected challenges.

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And yes, she did have plenty of sources to back up her research.