I can't wait to visit the Museum of Motherhood to check out the work of Lauren Cockerham-Colas. The current exhibit, abNORMALLY NURSING, features photos and research from Cockerham-Colas' masters project and is an exploration of breastfeeding beyond the first year.
From the exhibit introduction:
“…For over 99% of our existence as a species, all human infants have received their main nutrition via breastfeeding; however, today consuming the milk of a species other than our own has become commonplace. Because all mammalian milk is species specific, this practice may have significant individual and public health implications. Indeed, it has been established that children under one year benefit significantly when they are fed human milk (for example, breastfed infants have a reduced risk of ear infections, respiratory infections, and certain types of cancer when compared with formula fed infants). Though there is wide acceptance in the United States that human milk is superior during infancy, little scrutiny has been given to the forgoing of human milk beyond the first year of life. It is worth examining, however, the current attitudes of our society, the existing evidence, and the potential public health implications of breastfeeding beyond the first year… “
The exhibit was developed to educate healthcare professionals on the benefits of "extended" breastfeeding. Over the course of approximately a year’s time, Cockerham-Colas photographed more than 50 nursing families across five different states. The work was used as a research tool to evaluate and influence the knowledge and attitudes of healthcare professionals towards extended breastfeeding. Very recently, the results of the research (which showed an increase in positive attitudes towards extended breastfeeding among healthcare professionals after viewing the photos and information) were published within the peer reviewed scientific journal, Breastfeeding Medicine.
I had the pleasure of getting to know Lauren as she compiled photos and data for the project, and I feel so honored to be included amongst these images of mothers nursing their older babies and children (here are a few more photos from our visits that I posted a while back). I love that Lauren has found a way to combine her artistic talent with her passion and curiosity about breastfeeding and is finding ways to increase social acceptance of a biologically normal and beneficial phenomenon that is often misunderstood or under-appreciated (and considered abnormal) in our culture. Hooray for education about breastfeeding into toddlerhood and beyond!
Lauren’s exhibit is up in the Museum of Motherhood during the month of January, 2012.