Beyonce Breastfeeding Blue Ivy Carter in Public: An Icon for Other Breastfeeding Mothers?

 @cavanshays
on March 01 2012 3:02 PM

Beyonce dined with Jay-Z and baby Blue Ivy Carter at Sant Ambroeus in New York City's West Village last Saturday. During the meal, three observers confirmed to Us Weekly magazine that the new mama breastfed her Blue Ivy at the table. Beyonce later left the restaurant with baby Blue Ivy Carter tucked snugly in a blue BabyBjorn covered with a black Donni Charm scarf.

According to Us Weekly Beyonce joins millions of breastfeeding mothers and numerous other breastfeeding celebrities worldwide. Gisele Bundchen famously advocated breastfeeding in August 2010, stating that she breastfed her baby boy Benjamin and advocated that the act become a law.

Some people here [in the U.S.] think they don't have to breastfeed, and I think 'Are you going to give chemical food to your child when they are so little?' she told Harper's Bazaar UK, adding, I think there should be a worldwide law, in my opinion, that mothers should breastfeed their babies for six months. Bundchen also claimed that breastfeeding helped her keep her figure.

However, the supermodel and mother of one received an onslaught of criticism for her comments at the time. My intention in making a comment about the importance of breastfeeding has nothing to do with the law. It comes from my passion and beliefs about children. Becoming a new mom has brought a lot of questions, I feel like I am in a constant search for answers on what might be the best for my child, she defended on her blog.

But, to some, Bundchen became an inspiration. Now, with reports of Beyonce as a breastfeeding mother, women have yet another celebrity icon to look to. Love this! Beyoncé spotted breastfeeding baby Blue Ivy Carter in public tweeted Twitter user Ayla Stewart. Beyonce breastfeeds in public! Hooray for an amazing breastfeeding role model! wrote @AnthroDoula. Is Beyonce the new (and unexpected) public face of pro-breastfeeding moms? Tweeted user @BlackVoices.   

Some are particularly happy about the model she provides to the African-American community.

In 2009, Motherwear's Breastfeeding Blog interviewed Kathi Barber about African American mothers and breastfeeding. Barber is the founder of the African American Breastfeeding Alliance and author of The Black Woman's Guide to Breastfeeding.

On Thursday, the blog reposted the interview in which Barber said that one of the barriers to breastfeeding for African American women is a lack of role models in the community. Wouldn't it be amazing, Barber said at the time, if Beyonce had a baby and breastfed and was public about it?

In her book, Kathi Barber lists information about breastfeeding in the African-American community. Breastfeeding is an age-old remedy to...health crises, yet African-American women have the lowest long-term breastfeeding rates in the country.

She discusses the lack of breastfeeding role models in he African-American community along with the negative the way the female body is viewed in society. Our bodies are being exploited and exposed, making us objects of sexuality, and little else.

During her interview with Motherwear's Breastfeeding Blog, Barber noted this social stigma. She said that there is an apparent disconnect in society between a woman's breasts and breastfeeding. Breasts are viewed as a sexual entity and young women in turn disassociate them with life-giving potential.  

As a mother, a celebrity and a sex symbol all-in-one, Beyonce might very well bridge that gap.

Barber also describes in her book her journey as a breastfeeding mother. I soon realized that my entire world had changed, not just because I was a mother, but because of breastfeeding. It made me take better care of my health and have a healthier diet, said Barber.

Breastfeeding in public didn't come easy for me. It took a long time as I am a naturally shy person. As the months progressed, I built up amazing confidence to nurse in public or even in front of visitors in our home, she added. 

Breastfeeding also taught me about joy, love, and giving.

Breastfeeding advocates and doctors alike have noted how a celebrity icon takes away the stigma oftentimes associated not only with breastfeeding, but also with breastfeeding in public. Dr. Ruth Lawrence, professor of pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine told ABC News that celebrities can show young people the benefits and the beauty of breastfeeding. 

Beyonce appears as a beautiful, loving new mother, said Lawrence. She has dressed to carry and feed her baby when needed.  She makes a model image.

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