Babies are born wanting to drink mother’s milk at the breast. Even if mothers don’t know how to breastfeed or don’t want to breastfeed, the babies know they need to suck and try to get to the breast. In this way, we’re just like other mammals — and we can learn a lot about feeding our babies from other mammals. Chris Mulford puts this so well in her “I believe” essay for National Public Radio. Here’s a short excerpt:
Mammal mothers make their babies’ food themselves, and the babies control production by the amount of milk they drink. I believe it is essential to protect this collaborative bodily link between a human adult and her young. I believe that our breasts confer upon us—verbal, techno-savvy humans—a mysterious power to communicate with our babies, skin against skin, no words and no gadgets necessary. I believe that I spent some of my best years living as a mammal, and I wish the same for mothers everywhere, until the end of time.
You can learn more about other mammal mamas by listening to the Motherwear podcast interview with Dia Michels. She’s the author of If My Mother Were a Platypus: Animal Babies and Their Mothers. My favorite part was her description of how whales nurse their babies. For a great photo collection, check out the photo album of nursing mammals at 007b.com.