Breastfeeding on TV

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Children growing up today and watching the media will have a hard time understanding the biology of how babies feed.  In fact, by the time a child is pre-teen, s/he has probably seen a fair few sets of boobs in action movies, but has quite possibly never seen a pair used to breastfeed on TV (or in movies).  (Actually, given the paucity of nursing in public, perhaps not ever.)  Think about the popular kids or family shows today where there’s a new baby and you will see bottle-feeding.  But it didn’t always used to be that way and there actually are some shows that have managed to work breastfeeding in and I want to share some of them here so that, if you so choose, you can pick your media on the type of message you may want it to portray.

My favourite: Mr. Rogers talks about how babies feed and yes, they show nipples!  Used for (gasp) breastfeeding!  (Side note, there is a lovely story about how this clip was removed and reinstated with the blessing of the Mr. Rogers company.  It’s truly wonderful to know that while he is sadly gone, those who are working in his memory have as much class as he did.)

Roseanne.  One of my favourite scenes ever is Jackie breastfeeding “the baby” (it takes forever for that kid to have a name) while she’s getting married during the credits at the end (not to mention the leaky boobs just before).  But Jackie regularly breastfeeds so it’s not limited to this one episode.

Family Guy.  Arguably not a family show, but I know lots of pre-teens and teens who watch it.  And if they saw this episode, they were treated to a full-on discussion of breastfeeding, biting, weaning, and finally the resumption of the nursing relationship.

Old Sesame Street.  Back in the day, they showed kids what breastfeeding looked like and no one thought it was strange.  But be forewarned that if you want your kids to see this, you’ll have to go back to watch the older episodes (there’s this one here and another one with Maria a few years later, but still in the 70s/80s Sesame Street era).

The New Normal.  An entire episode dedicated to breastfeeding and a flash mob dancing in support of nursing in public.  Just try to ignore the crotch-danglers :)

A couple more without clips:

Sex and the City.  Again, not a family show, but many a teen girl watched and continue to watch and thus the breastfeeding Miranda offers a great example  while the wonderful Charlotte reminds us why we must not be cruel to moms who are bottle-feeding.

Modern Family.  With Gloria having had a baby, it was a question of what would happen, but nursing she is.  Though the show “censored” shots of her breastfeeding, it’s not too surprising given that Sofia Verga wasn’t actually breastfeeding so it may have looked a little awkward.  The show did show Jay being an ass, but at least Gloria stands up for her and her baby.

What am I missing?  Any other shows that have featured breastfeeding on TV for kids to watch as if it’s (gasp) normal??

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Comments

  1. Dana S says

    Bones- They definitely talk about nursing. I don’t think it was every shown. Brennan and Angela go to visit their babies to nurse at daycare. We don’t see it but it’s at least said. I doubt any pre-teens should be watching this show as it can be gruesome.

    Friends – Also references breast feeding, breast pumps, and pumping when Rachel has a baby BUT they only show her bottle feeding.

  2. says

    Sex and the City is a bad example because mostly Miranda uses bottles too. And there is one episode where they refer to extended nursing “a child who can chew steak” and use that awful line, “If you’re old enough to ask for it, you’re probably too old to have it.” :/

    Bones definitely refers to breastfeeding a lot and also talks positively about home birth.

    There is breastfeeding on Breaking Bad, which I’m watching right now!

  3. Olivia Thompson says

    The Kardashians also show Kortney breastfeeding and pumping (with the nipples blurred). They also talk a good bit about nursing. The Kardashian sisters definitely do not set a good example for young girls all the time, but they do accept breastfeeding as normal. Kortney’s dedication is great. So many girls watch this show and it’s awesome that at least they can see this part of motherhood as normal.

  4. Olivia Thompson says

    Also, The Office! When Pam and Jim’s baby is born, the episode shows Pams struggle with the initial breastfeeding session. It depicts her baby’s poor latch, but also the joy of mother and baby finally getting it right. Later episodes mention nursing and leaking boobs!

  5. MDK says

    So glad someone else mentioned the Kardashians! Kourtney Kardashian nursed both her babies on the show. She’s seen in several scenes with leak marks on her shirt. It’s great to see her so unappologetic about taking care of her babies.

  6. AShley says

    I was also going to mention The Office! The scene is so great! Pam has a consult in the hospital after CeCe is born with the lactation consultant who is a male and it is hilarious :) Well done on several levels.

  7. AllyB says

    The second last episode of True Blood had a scene in it where a new mother is having trouble getting her baby to latch on, her husband helps her calm down then try again and mother and baby successfully latch and start feeding. What’s amazing about this scene is that they actually show a baby opening it’s mouth at a bare breast and then latching on. It’s only a couple of seconds but it’s the only time I’ve ever seen explicit footage of breastfeeding on a fictional show.

    Australian soap Neighbours always features breastfeeding when characters have a baby. In that world formula is only something that exists in an emergency, like when a character was diagnosed with cancer during her pregnancy and needed surgery and chemotherapy immediately after giving birth. Formula was seen as something of a necessary evil as the character grieved her inability to breastfeed. A recent storyline with two new babies, one healthy and the other with a serious illness in NICU, showed the mother of the healthy baby being told not to nurse in a cafe/bar. She was upset and complained, the waitress was nearly fired until she genuinely realised what an awful thing it was to do to the mother and apologised with feeling. During this storyline the first mother is visiting the second mother and baby at the NICU and she tells her what happened. As they talk the nurse comes in with a bottle of milk for the baby. The first mother is horrified at her own insensitivity for complaining about being harassed for NIP to a woman who’s baby has to have a bottle. The second mother tells her it’s ok, she has every right to be upset and then reassures her that the milk in the bottle ‘isn’t as bad as she thinks’ as it’s still her milk she just has to express it and wake him up for extra feeds. They really give the impression in the scene that formula is dreadful stuff.

    Malcolm in the Middle has repeated references to breastfeeding. A lot of it’s played for laughs, as is everything in that show, but Jane Kazmareck (Lois) is a passionate breastfeeder who fed her children until they selfweaned as toddlers.

  8. Jessica says

    Guys with kids – one of the guys accidentally drinks the pumped breastmilk milk left by the other guys ex wife. Not totally realistic, because it was like a full jug of milk, not a more realistic 8 oz for an 8 hour day, but still.

    Scrubs – Carla struggles with breastfeeding and gets super depressed because she can’t feed her baby. Includes a session with the lactation consultant, while Turk ogles his wife’s breasts.

  9. Jordan says

    On Parenthood one of the couples just had a new baby and they talk about breastfeeding and show her feeding the baby at a restaurant. She’s covered but still breastfeeding!

    • Emma says

      The scenes in Game of Thrones were meant to be disturbing, not nice. And that show is far too violent and gory for children.

  10. Nicola Thomson says

    All this hype about breast feeding!! Some mums do, some dont, and some cant.
    Yes breast milk is best for the first year(and i would question it for after that) but there is no point in a mum breastfeeding if its getting her exhausted ……there IS such a thing as looking after HERself! The studies showing this and that, wait a few years and theyll prove something else.
    Everything in moderation please.

  11. Emily says

    Rugrats ; they show the twins mom feeding them when tey we’re newborn & talking about how much she loved them . It’s a sweet scene !

  12. Kimberly Brown says

    Charmed had a wonderful episode. Piper was nursing at a restaurant and was “asked” to leave. Phoebe where up doing a Lady Godiva bit in support of her sister and her right to nurse in public

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