Image credit: Erin Rudd Photography
Human breasts have been used to nourish human infants since time immemorial. There was a time when the nursing madonna was one of the cherished subjects for artists worldwide.
Here is an insight from artelisa's blog, Art history, symbolism, and legends:
As it turns out, the Middle Age philosophers were intuitively correct...breastmilk is created when the hormone prolactin causes alveoli to take nutrients, like proteins and sugars, from the blood supply, and then turns them into breast milk. (Source: Sutter Health)
So let's look at a few example of breastfeeding, the divine:
Click on images to go to the source page
Jesus as an infant:
Virgin and Child, by Bernard van Orley
Jesus as an older baby:
Madonna with Child, detail from Our Lady of Graces with Saints Francis of Assisi, Dominic de Guzman and the person who commissioned the art work, oil on canvas by Fabrizio Santafede (about 1560-1634), Church of San Domenico, Ruvo di Puglia (Bari), Apulia, Italy, 17th century.
Jesus as a toddler??
Madonna che allatta
Bernardino Luini - olio
And this one even shows *gasp* NIPPLE!!
16th century. Museu de Aveiro, Portugal.
Another one with "the nip"!!
Gerard David, Nursing Madonna
Two things struck me as I was searching for pictures I wanted to include in this post:
And we think it's a big deal if someone is nursing outside of the home past a year, or when a baby starts to "ask" for it...I would say that the "normal" for many of the artists depicting the Madonna and Child would be older nurslings, since that is what is portrayed in such a huge number of images.
I also want to name my bias in today's post. I specifically sought the Madonna and Child because that is my reference point. As I was searching, I saw Hindu art, Egyptian art, sculptures and woodcarvings...all depicting breastfeeding (many of older children nursing, too...no coincidence there, I think).
So I am going to leave you with this encouragement today. Breastfeeding is part of nature's design. It isn't always easy. It isn't always pretty. It is always worth it. Whether you feed your baby drops a day or ounces a day, whether you feed your baby a day, a week, months, or years...every time you take the time to feed your baby, they are receiving a benefit from your body to theirs.
Embrace your choice. Feed your baby. Nurse in public. It's so 600 years ago.
Need some tips on NIP? Search our blog archive on Nursing In Public
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