(Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo: AFP/Getty Images)


If you’re shocked by the sight of a woman breastfeeding — it might be time to get over it.

The World Health Organization says breast milk is the “best source of nourishment” for a young child, and health authorities across the planet recommend mothers nurse their babies for at least the first six months of life to protect them against infectious diseases and optimize their development.

Breastfed babies not only have better chances of survival, they are also more successful in life, a new study shows. A long-term study released this week found babies that were breastfed on average went on to have higher IQs, more years of education and higher incomes than those who weren’t.

Yet despite the overwhelming evidence that breastfeeding provides babies with the best start in life, many people feel squeamish, even revolted, at the sight of a woman nursing her offspring.

Discrimination against lactating women has become so bad in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo that authorities have approved legislation that prohibits organizations — both public and private — from stopping a woman from breastfeeding in public. Under the bill, which is expected to be signed off the mayor in coming weeks, violators could be fined the equivalent of around $150.

But even in countries where the rights of women to nurse their babies in public are already enshrined in law, there have been countless incidents where breastfeeding women have been told to cover up or move along when they tried to feed their hungry infants.

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