(WMC-TV) - Breastfeeding sparked a heated debate in recent years. Some say it is beneficial for children, while others say it is not necessary.
A Mid-South doctor is using art to inform Mid-Southerners about the benefits of breastfeeding.
The initiative is called "Project Got Breast Milk" and it is taking an artsy approach to a serious issue in Shelby County.
The national rate for breastfeeding is 75 percent. In Shelby County, it is only 60 percent, even lower than the Tennessee average of 67 percent. A large part of the reason, according to a Memphis pediatrician, is social pressure.
"One of my patients was in their OB office and someone confronted them about breast feeding. And said they should have a room for that," said Dr. Allison Stiles, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics.
With decades of research pointing to the fact that breastfeeding is better for babies, Dr. Stiles says too many women are not getting the message or feel too uncomfortable because of publicized instances of women publicly ridiculed.
For this reason, she is setting up an exhibit of photographs showing women breastfeeding. Some show women breastfeeding out in the open, while others are in their homes.
"The breasts have been so sexualized in our society and that is really wrong, that is not what they are here for," said Dr. Stiles. "God gave them to us to feed our infants. Who would think we would be feeding our babies cow's milk."
Dr. Stiles hopes the exhibit not only encourages mothers to breastfeed but also encourages other doctors to address the issue in a conversational way.