The Breast Episode Ever


So today we’re sitting with Robert Martin and we’re going to talk about Chapter 6 in his book, titled “How We Do It.” And Chapter 6 is all about feeding babies and breastfeeding. It’s great. A good way to determine a biological anthropologist versus a cultural anthropologist is that… you can tell us why we breastfeed, and you can tell us the biological imperatives behind that, and a cultural anthropologist will tell us why there’s a social taboo against breastfeeding beyond a certain age. – And the real difference is that all biology depends on the theory of evolution. That is the foundation. Cultural anthropology may take account of evolution, but usually doesn’t. – During the Industrial Revolution, policy makers started working in conjunction, perhaps, with scientists who were publishing papers saying, “it’s okay for women to not breastfeed on demand,” which is, evolutionarily, how breastfeeding was done in mammals—at least some mammals. – That’s a beautiful example, because primates started evolving 80 million years ago, and every single living primate—there are 400 of them including us— —the mother suckles her offspring on demand. It’s the baby that decides when it wants to feed. This is because primates, throughout their evolutionary history, have carried their babies around and the baby can then just move to the breast when it wants to be fed. And yet, we have these medics telling women that they should put the baby in a separate bedroom, thus eliminating physical contact during the night, and that they should feed according to a rigid schedule. And they said, maybe “every four hours,” or whatever, and that they should stick to the schedule. This is totally and utterly in opposition to our biology. – Given that humans are the size that we are and our babies are at a certain stage of development when they’re born, they still have a long way to go. So, another thing that comes up is why are we stopping breastfeeding around 6 months to a year when it seems like biologically we should be breastfeeding our kids until they’re 6 or 7? – You can look across primates and take body size into account, you can look at archaeological evidence. They all point to that a woman should breastfeed for at least 3 years, if she were behaving naturally. I do want to emphasize that this is not exclusive breastfeeding. So at some point, you start mixing complimentary foods. So probably exclusive breastfeeding, where that’s the only food the baby is getting, is about 6 months to a year. – Human breast milk is closer in relation to horse milk than it is to cows’ milk. So considering we diverged from cows around 100 million years ago, why are we drinking cow’s milk? – It’s purely the accident of domestication. It so happened that we domesticated cows, and they’re easier to milk than horses. A cow’s milk has higher fat content, but they’re the wrong fats. They’re not really adapted for brain growth, which is really important for us. Horse milk is much more similar to human milk. It’s more diluted. So if I had to choose an artificial milk, I would try to get horse’s milk rather than cow’s milk. – Women have to go to work. I mean, they can’t stop midway through, they can’t go home and breastfeed. So what kind of solutions would you suggest as to how we can do a better job of accommodating working women who are also fostering their young children? – The last thing I want to do is to make any woman feel guilty because she can’t breastfeed. My message is not that we should go back to being hunters and gatherers. That isn’t going to happen. What we need to do is recognize what we would be doing if we were living as hunters and gatherers and if we’re doing something different, then find ways to compensate. So if we replace breast milk with something else, let’s make sure that the composition is correct and that it’s provided to the baby at the right intervals and all of that kind of thing. And mother-infant contact has been very important for 80 million years in primate evolution, so we need to maintain that as well. Telling mothers to put their babies away somewhere else is not a good idea. Part of that respect means society trying to provide optimal conditions for mothers. We’re talking about investment in the next generation. Instead of providing them with stress—which is what we’re providing at the moment by not providing mandatory maternity leave in the United States, which I find appalling. It’s one of the few places in the world where this is not done. To me, it’s unimaginable that a modern society anywhere could be throwing the mothers to the wolves along with their infants when they have the resources and the know-how to do it far better. – Well, thank you so much to Robert Martin for sitting and talking with us today. I never thought I cared so much about breastfeeding. Be sure to pick up his book called, “How We Do It.” So thanks again, Robert. – It was a pleasure. Thank you, Emily.




Comments
  1. It's different substances in cow's milk however suckling the breast might be as important for the baby.

  2. Cue all the different people with all the different opinions based on all the different information from all the different sources derived from all the different research funded by all the different groups with all the different agendas.

  3. the infant formula makers want you to stop breastfeeding at an earlier age so they can sell you their product.

  4. The Brain Scoop is my favoritest thing ever. I get so excited when they're is a new video up! You're my hero Emily! 😀

  5. Wow, Emily has really stepped up her game. I've always liked her videos, but now "Wow, she's an ol' pro at this."  Really clear, informative, and interesting interview. POINTS! 

  6. Those long pauses in between topics are not conducive to engagement. Vloggers on Youtube speak quickly and leave few moments of silence because that's how you keep your audience watching. While The Brainscoop is not a vlog, it would be smart to follow the same principles.

  7. Wow, Emily…you called it when you said this might be the most controversial Brain Scoop ever…just reading through the comments, I was like, "Whoa…".  Thanks for being reasonable, rational, calm. Hopefully at least SOME viewers can pick up that cue and move towards it. Great show, as always.

  8. Just a small note.. can you please use a tripod next time? Other than that once again great show! PS i do feel a bit guilty now. as my wife has a career and i am the one that is raising the kids and also did when they were baby's

    >.< 

  9. I feel like mothers should be encouraged to comment here.

    Speaking of which I'm actually quite curious how my mom would respond to this.

  10. Pregnancy can get complicated in a money-driven system. It becomes a question of who is going to pay for a child. I hate to say it, but becoming pregnant is like buying a new car and too often the money just isn't there.
    Also, under normal circumstances pregnancy prevention is a woman's responsibility and as such, so are any repercussions. I say this because it is their body and not the body of their partner. Of course a partner should be more than willing to help in prevention. It's of mutual interest. I know the current system tries to rope in the partner to pay costs that the system shouldn't provide and this is wrong in many cases. I knew many women who got pregnant around the age of 18 with their current boyfriends by going off of the pill (some without telling their SO). It's simply not fair to the guy. Society does all it can to support and take care of a pregnant teen but the guy gets no support and is completely screwed – all because his girlfriend took a risk knowing that others would support her if things go wrong. Of course it's no walk in the park for the girl either, but that's not relevant to the point I'm making.

    If I were to engage in an activity that could result in burns then it would be my responsibility to ensure that precautions are taken to prevent burns. If I don't and I get burned the fault is completely my own (again, under normal circumstances). I realize it's a sensitive subject and that mothers could use all the support that they can get. My point is just that other people shouldn't be expected to pay for a car you bought, and being a pregnant woman doesn't mean responsibility is inherently pushed onto those around you, though usually some friends and family will gladly help.
    Of course unique situations such as rape is not a woman's fault nor are they responsible for any pregnancies resulting from it, and in a planned pregnancy/serious relationship the man has an obligation to tend to the family.

  11. My mum stopped lactating when I was 4 months old, I had to drink artificial baby milk formula from then on 🙁

  12. Typical politicians. 20 kids die at sandy hook and the politicians try to take away the right of hundreds of millions of citizens to defend themselves. TENS OF THOUSANDS of kids get abducted each year, 80% within one mile of their homes and politicians DO NOTHING. Even something as simple as allowing us to fence in our front yards. HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of kids don't get the proven benefits of mother's milk because mothers don't get maternity leave and the politicians DO NOTHING. Proving that politicians only pretend to care about kids when they can use it to strip away basic human rights.

  13. @thebrainscoop Awesome show, thanks for these episodes. I'd like to know – what font do you guys use for the subsection headers? Kudos to whoever is responsible for selecting the images!

  14. An interesting episode for a number of reasons, not least because I am involved in childhood care and education. A would like to see mothers (and fathers) better educated on this and many other child rearing topics because 'old wives tales' and 'mother's instinct' are often more damaging to the child than helpful, and usually a product of their cultural setting rather than something based on experience or evidential research.

  15. I don't have kids and I don't know much on this topic so I haven't formed any opinions on breastfeeding. This is really interesting as is reading the comments, its cool to see peoples varying views and feelings based on their experiences and knowledge.

  16. I really enjoyed watching this interview, maybe it's because I agreed with Mr. Martain, or maybe it was because that was how I used to breastfeed my children.

    I got an "Atta Boy" from Robert Martain!

  17. the cow looked super surprised, like "Whuuuut, you want to sculp me?" then stays in a surprised position for 100 hours while some dude meticulously sculpts it

  18. Currently a friend of mine is on Maternity leave and has been given 52 weeks leave, which is amazing in any country, but the boss is adement that it's best for the mother and child.
    Now I know a little more about breast feeding, I'd encourage it a lot more.

  19. 1. we should breastfeed till about 3 years of age
    2. there is a certain taboo on breastfeeding after certain age (3?)

    So how come we are discussing drinking cow or horse BEAST milks? Sure it is still breastfeeding after certain age, and aslo by OTHER SPECIES. :O

    Mind-blowing!

  20. 0:58 to 2:04 "This is totally and utterly in opposition to our biology." – one of the greatest quotes ever

    THANK YOU for challenging "modernity"; somebody's got to illuminate reality for this consumer madness we call a society.

  21. I really enjoyed this video. I like how she said "how we do it". How she writes her dialogue sounds almost to put together. I like that about her videos

  22. I think that last point about no maternity leave in the US can be explained very simply.
    Money is more important than individual people.
    It would not be very hard for companies to work around maternity leave, but it would cost them time and money, so they just don't bother.

  23. Tom's editing is really wonderful and unique and Wes Anderson-y. It's great to watch!! I like Michael and what he does on this series but videos edited by Tom are wonderful to watch.

  24. Super late to the party and channel.  But I was born lactose intolerant, so am quite glad for modern technology and soy based formula. I'm healthier than my milk drinking brothers, so while anecdotal, it does show that it's at least possible.

  25. In India the idea of a child sleeping away from his mother is abhorrent. I mean I slept with my mother and my younger brother until I was 12. Some may call it unhealthy but again in India almost all of the young care for their old parents and so we have a very tight knit families. Considering the fact that such bonding reduces the occurrence of depression and anxiety and suicidal tendencies I say it's not really a great idea to deprive your child of important human contact with his mother.

  26. I think this is one of the few YouTube series that everyone watches to the very end, just to make sure she says THAT phrase. ;->

  27. Breastfeeding is hard. I don't like a man telling me its absurd that a woman should sleep away from the child and a mother be available all the time.

  28. I watched this video while pumping at work! I am lucky to work at a hospital that provides a lactation room for employees and visitors to visit throughout the day or night and pump breastmilk. my baby is 5 months old and I nurse at night but thanks to my workplace providing a space for it I am able to make sure that during the day my baby is still able to get milk from a bottle.

  29. It's the disease called the worship of money. The vast majority of so-called "civilized societies" have successfully brainwashed people into sacrificing all for the false deity known as money.

  30. You like the bumble bees don't you. I do too but not on your ears. Totally distracting and take away from your credibility. They make you look like preadolescent. Someone needs to take you shopping.

  31. Say it with me MATERNITY LEAVE not PATERNITY LEAVE. The baby does not need on demand close enough, on demand complaining, or on demand tagging mom in. I know we like to pretend but let's keep it real or just a second. Men are relief pitchers. It has never been fifty fifty, and for good reason.

  32. (Pardon my English, I am French but here I go…)
    I'm a microbiologist specialised in studying the milk microbiota in cows, but I'm also a woman who wants to have kids and career at the same time. I want to emphasize on the fact that women have beared children for… forever, and the modern society lacks in adaptation to this factor. Seriously, when I see one of my colleague bring her baby to work, I am really glad she allows herself to do it… But others are not that happy. Working structures need to accept that women have a uterus, and they can bear children (if they want to) and that they maybe want more time with their babies than the prescribed maternal leave (if there's one…). Being pregnant and having a kid is not a disease, and the society needs to adapt to that fact. Moreover, it should have adapted to that factor hundreds of years ago!

  33. I pump at work everyday. My son was and my daughter is exclusively fed breastmilk. What I would give for maternity leave to be more than 6 weeks in the us. Until that happens, pumping is my only option.

  34. I love the questions you ask in your videos, they're well thought out and get informed responses. Love the content in your channel. It would be so cool if someday you had your own Netflix/Hulu/etc. show to get a wider audience.

  35. as a half Indian and half Latino I can say that in both cultures denying breast milk to babies is something never thought about. it's so wrong on so many levels.

  36. Yeah, yeah, that's great and all, but what I really want to know is WHY DO HUMAN MALES FIND THEM ATTRACTIVE!? AND WHY CAN THEY CAUSE ORGASMS!? THESE ARE THE QUESTIONS THAT GO BEYOND THE OBVIOUS PURPOSES OF BREAST FEEDING, AND I DEMAND ANSWERS!

  37. As I watched this video, I was breast feeding my 4 month old son. I co-sleep (safely) and feed him non stop during the day as he wishes… He is a BIG BOY! He is in size 6-9 month clothing easy. He is my 2nd child, I have a 5 year old daughter as well. She was not breast fed for more then two weeks. Yet we did co sleep till she was 2.5 years. I was a new mother and could not produce enough milk and her latch was agony! She grew up fine, has no attachment issues etc. I do notice tho, if I may add. That my son is a VERY stress free, smiley and happy boy. I believe in what has been said in this video. <3

  38. Although i am a man ,replacing mother milk/breastfeeding 4:33 with something artificial sounds not right and quite shocking to me…

  39. lol that dude is really weird. its also weird to think that drinking cow milk is literally the same as us still breast feeding but from a different species just like a baby. milk is life tho

  40. This is so interesting, and people fail to realize how important breastfeeding was until formula was readily available. There are many places today that are more roll and women breastfeed their children 10-12 or even 13 years of age or older, because even though it's not much it's still food and a child that is drinking milk in those cultures is getting some sustenance. So in a way it's also countermeasure for starvation.

  41. Dr. Martin sounds like he is speaking through a microphone from the 50th.
    Never recognized this on a person before Õ.o

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