Detail from Tintoretto's The Origin of the Milky Way

Model of a breastfeeding mother from a preseppio in NaplesA wet nurse (for that is what Hera was in all tellings of the story) created the Milky Way when her divine milk sprayed across the heavens. Today’s nursing mothers are not so blessed. Although women have a legal right to breastfeed in public across the United States and the UK (and many other countries), there are plenty of individuals who seem to think that they have the right to tell them to stop, and plenty of new mothers who are intimidated enough not to try. Why? How can this most essential of food chains possibly be considered shameful? And then there are the women who would dearly love to breastfeed their infants, but cannot. In this episode, experts on infant feeding discuss the history and current status of mothers’ milk and its various substitutes.


  1. Professor Amy Brown’s website is full of amazing resources for and about nursing mothers.
  2. Lindsay Naylor is a political geographer. Her paper Troubling care in the neonatal intensive care unit and others prompted me to dig deeper.
  3. Professor Lawrence Weaver wrote White Blood: A History of Human Milk. His website “is a kind of autobiography”.
  4. There was no way I could cover the contamination at the Abbott infant formula plant. Helena Bottemiller Evich originally broke the story and has been following it closely. Her latest roundup sticks it to the Food and Drug Administration with a detailed accounting.
  5. The transcript has finally arrived.

huffduffer icon   Huffduff it