Celebrity Mom: Salma Hayek

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By Tracy G. Cassels

When it comes to breastfeeding, there is no celebrity parent quite like Salma Hayek.  If you happen to be one of the few people on earth who missed her splash in 2009, Ms. Hayek travelled to Africa (Sierra Leone to be exact) on a goodwill mission for a tetanus-vaccination project.  However, instead of bringing the world’s attention to this particular project, she managed to bring breastfeeding to the forefront of the news.  And it wasn’t because of her rather enormous breasts (though I’m sure it helped the news front), it was because she stopped and fed a starving African child – and by fed I mean breastfed.

Apparently in Sierra Leone (and other parts of Africa), children are being weaned way too early (especially given the lack of other sustenance there) because husbands believe that a woman can’t have sex while breastfeeding and would like to, you know, have sex again (cue most Westerners shaking their heads in disbelief).  In order to help dispel this myth and the stigma that’s been built up against breastfeeding, Ms. Hayek decided to document her feeding this child and publicly share it.  The video of her breastfeeding this child showed up everywhere on the news in Western nations and sent everyone into a tizzy.  Entertainment Weekly even labeled the video its “biggest eyebrow raiser” of the day when it aired.  Why was this video such a big deal?  I mean, in Western nations, do we not accept that women can nurse and still have sex?  Well, we may look to certain African beliefs and wonder how on earth they believe such a thing, but we have plenty of our own bizarre ones and nursing another person’s baby is definitely one of them.

Because breastfeeding has become so sexualized, most Western women would not feed another woman’s baby and most Western men find the thought disgusting.  This, despite the fact that evolutionarily it used to be that if mom couldn’t feed her baby at any given time (for whatever reason) another lactating woman in the group would.  It’s akin to spoon-feeding another person’s child in our culture.  Ms. Hayek realized the ridiculousness of this stigma that we have and so not only did she manage to publically work towards ending the stigma about breastfeeding in Sierra Leone, she also managed to make us Westerners sit back and ask ourselves why we’re so against the idea of breastfeeding another person’s baby.

In addition to breastfeeding another woman’s baby, and doing it proudly, Ms. Hayek has also been outspoken about the benefits of breastfeeding.  While many celeb moms like to talk about how great it is for losing that baby weight (as if that’s the only real benefit), Ms. Hayek has taken another route and focused on the good it provides her daughter.  When her girl was 13 ½ months, Ms. Hayek was quoted as saying, “It’s like, I don’t care if I cry, I don’t care if I’m fat, I’m just gonna do it for one more week, one more month. Then, when I see how much good it is doing her, I can’t stop.”[i]  Sadly, comments from ignorant individuals proliferated after she admitted to extended breastfeeding of her daughter.  One person claiming to be a licensed psychiatrist wrote in to a site saying that breastfeeding beyond a year is akin to a form of child sexual abuse and that women use it to “fill an emotional void”[ii].  Here I thought you had to go to medical school to become a psychiatrist and so anyone who’s done that should have learned about the extensive benefits of breastfeeding, but apparently not.  Given the unbelievable ignorance that has proliferated in our culture, it’s always nice to have a public figure stand up and tout the many benefits of breastfeeding.  While Ms. Hayek is doing what many of us moms do on a daily basis without all the hoopla, I think most of us cheered a little when we got to see her make it all so public, ignorant people’s opinions be damned.  So to Ms. Hayek and her incredible love of breastfeeding, I salute you!

Remember – there is no shame, only love, in extended breastfeeding and breastfeeding another baby.

While many of us are unable to physically feed another person’s baby, there is always ample need for a mother’s breastmilk to help those moms who can’t breastfeed their child on their own. 

If you live in Canada, there is one milk bank left in the entire country and it’s run by Women’s Hospital in Vancouver, BC.  Although located on the west coast, women from all over the country can both utilize and donate to it.  For more information, please go to http://www.bcwomens.ca/Services/PregnancyBirthNewborns/HospitalCare/Breastfeeding.htm#Milkbank for a list of FAQs and contact information.

If you live in the United States, several states have milk banks which you can donate to.  I don’t know how each of them sets their standards or if they take donors from out-of-state (if you live in a state without a milk bank), but a list of all the milk banks in the US, with contact information, can be found here: http://www.hmbana.org/milk-bank-locations.

If you live in the United Kingdom, you have 17 milk banks (go you!) and the primary site with information and how to donate is found at http://www.ukamb.org/.  And as an aside, I love their motto – EVERY DROP COUNTS.  (Yes, it does.)

If you live in Australia, it seems that there is only 1 milk bank that is run as a volunteer effort.  I can’t speak to the standards and screening that go on there, but you can find out more information and how to donate by going here: http://mothersmilkbank.com.au/.

If you don’t live in one of these countries and want more information, I would be happy to help you find it, just contact me at tracy@evolutionaryparenting.com

And of course, no matter where you live there is the always-wonderful Human Milk 4 Human Babies network which is GLOBAL.  Here you will be able to network with other moms who may live in your area and need breastmilk.  This is not a regulated endeavor and is running solely on the goodwill of mothers everywhere.  Do not donate here if you know you have a communicable disease or are taking medications that may affect a baby.  Be honest as we don’t want to see such a wonderful grassroots project come under fire because people weren’t careful enough.

Good luck and happy breastfeeding!

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  1. Jespren says

    I always did like her as an actress :) I have offered to wetnurse a couple of babies through human milk 4 human babies, because I have plenty of milk but pumping just *doesn’t* work for me. But no one has taken up my offer yet. But I know I’ll be nursing for a while yet (my son is turning 3 at the end of the month and he still nurses, so it’s safe to assume the little one’s got at least another year and a half) and will always be willing.
    I think if there was one thing I could do (from a worldly perspective) to change how babies are raised would be to make ‘wetnurse’ a culturally acceptable job once again. Woman who wanted to work could still feed their babies breastmilk, and poor moms would have a baby-friendly job (nanny/wetnurse), it would get babies out of impersonal day cares and allow for a much greater sense of community to evolve even in a city setting. Well, okay, that’s not true, the top thing I would change about how babies are raised would be to criminalize all forms of abortion, but after that, wetnurses!

    • Christina says

      Criminalize all forms of abortion? What about ectopic pregnancies where the mother would die without an abortion? What about severe medical abnormalities in the fetus that are incompatible with life? What if the mother was raped or incest was involved? Also, do you plan to adopt the millions of additional children that would be born into an already overburdened orphanage/foster care system?

      • Jespren says

        Mothers don’t die without abortion. There is no maternal situation that requires abortion to save a life. Ectopic pregnancies aren’t even treated by standard abortions, in fact it’s one of the major complications of abortion, missed ectopic pregnancy. The chemical treatment to starve the offspring ex-utero has only been around for a relatively limited time, and is not used everywhere. Other successful treatments exist and are used, even in the U.S. today by obgyns who do not practice abortion. In fact most ectopic pregnancies resolve themselves and even in the minority of cases where complications arise life-threatening hemorage and/or death are very rare.
        Several abnormalities? Why would that be a good reason to kill someone? If my 2 year old developed a serious disorder that would kill her sometime in the future it would hardly be ethical to murder her ahead of time. Furthermore prenatal diagnosis is a guessing game, it’s probability and expectations, not certainties. Babies diagnosed prenatally with disorders ‘incompatible with life’ can, do, and have lived, sometimes for hours, sometimes for days, sometimes for years after birth. You don’t kill someone because they *probably* will die in the future. Guess what, every single person is ultimately ‘incompatible with life’ we *all* die. No one ‘survives’ life.
        How does killing a woman’s child heal her of rape? It doesn’t, it merely allows society to ignore the rape because now the ‘proof’ of it is gone. Rape isn’t a capital charge (in the U.S. or Canada or the E.U.) but it’s ok to kill the innocent 3rd party who had the bad luck of having a criminal for a father? What if I rob a bank and kill a teller, murder is considered a worse crime than rape by nearly everyone, do you think it would be justified to kill one of my offspring because I’m a criminal? Real rape victims have testified before Congress, pleading not to be used to promote abortion on demand. Surveys of rape victims show they abort at lower rates than the general populace and, among those that have the baby (regardless of if they keep or adopt) none reported regret for their choice, while a majority of those who aborted reported feeling forced and further traumatized by the abortion and many regretted it. Building abortion ‘rights’ on the backs of the 1% of abortions that occure due to rape ignore the realities of the situation to make society at large feel more comfortable about the real crime, the rape.
        There is not a backlog or overburdening of infants waiting to be adopted. In fact there are extremely long waiting lists to adopt a baby. There are more couples waiting, right now, to adopt a baby then there were abortions last year. The whole ‘but what will we do with all the babies?!’ Is no different that advocating for executing the homeless because our overburdened welfare system can’t care for them all. You don’t ‘take care of’ the disadvantagexd or unwanted by killing them. Besides, that arguement also assumes that the birthrate would follow the abortion rate if abortion was criminalized. While this might be true in the immediate short term, countries that do not allow abortion, like Chile and Ireland (both of which have better materal outcomes than the U.S. or Canada, proving abortion is *not* needed to lower maternal mortality rates) still have (abysmally) low birth rates. When people know they will not be able to as easily dispose of an unwanted child they tend to take better precautions against having unwanted children. So if abortion was illegal the ocerall pregnancy rate would very likely drop, resulting in less babies. In fact access to abortion on demand has done nothing to lower the unintended pregnancy rate, so the argument is false on it’s face. Birthrate/fertility rate is largly unattatched to abortion access. General education and age of marriage are far more closely tied to birthrate.
        In short, no, I’m not joking. A human is a human, and it should be illegal to kill an innocent human being.

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