La Leche League Exec Barbara Emanuel Responds to Gisele Breastfeeding Quote


womanly art of breastfeedingWe've all got an opinion on Gisele Bundchen's breastfeeding quote. Someone says breastfeeding and law in the same sentence and a firestorm erupts -- well, only if that someone is famous. In case you missed it, Gisele said, "I think there should be a worldwide law, in my opinion, that mothers should breastfeed their babies for six months."

I wanted to know what Barbara Emanuel, Executive Director of La Leche League International, thought about Gisele's comment.

Like me, Barbara was able to see the positive within the now infamous (and divisive) statement.

"One mother doesn't have to be wrong so that another mother can be right," Emanuel told the New York Post. "There are lots of choices out there, and La Leche League respects those choices."

Read on for my exclusive interview with her and learn more of her thoughts on this topic.

Wasn't Gisele's core message positive?

Barbara Emanuel: Yes, I think she is a new mother who is in love with her baby, and the connection that is enhanced by breastfeeding her baby. Her comments sound like a fulfilled mother who wants other mothers to experience the same joy.

Do you think Gisele has brought a positive light on breastfeeding or negative?

It is always positive when a mother feels so strongly about the benefits she has found in breastfeeding. Unfortunately, her enthusiasm has been picked up in a negative and judgmental light. La Leche League strongly supports each mother to get good information, to help her make the best choices for her family.

Breastfeeding is the most natural and best thing for baby, yet some people almost seem to be anti-breastfeeding. Has Gisele's comments furthered those who seem to be anti or unsupportive? What message do you think Gisele was really trying to make?

Gisele's comments have been used by those opposed to breastfeeding; however, if taken in context they show her to be, at heart, just another mom in the long line of mothers throughout the ages who have found that breastfeeding is the perfect way to nurture babies, both physically and emotionally.

Thank you, Barbara. For more information on LLLI, please check out their website,, and their latest book, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.

Can you see the positive behind what Gisele was trying to say?



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CafeS... CafeSasha

I see the positives. I think there is far more hatred heaped upon breastfeeding moms than there is support. And I get a little tired of the way breastfeeding advocates are portrayed.

RanaA... RanaAurora

I fully agree with (and appreciate) what Sasha said.

Honestly, I can't imagine parenting without breastfeeding.

nonmember avatar ally

Good job! I hated how the ladies from The View addressed those comments made by Gisele. It was almost as if she had offended them. She was just trying to send a good message. Besides, I don't actually believe she was being so black and white. Metaphor, anybody?

APeve... APeveteaux

While breastfeeding should be supported, no one should be forced to do it under penalty of the law. What happened to "keep your laws off my body?"

Peajewel Peajewel

Anyone that has successfully breastfed, understands the benefits of it; not just the healthy choice, there are a lot of pros to this.   As someone that has breastfed you want to tell everyone how wonderful it is and how much you think it could benefit them and the baby.  It's one of those things you just want to make people understand and agree with you on.   I am sure she did not mean it the way it was said but I really do believe everyone should give it a try. 

CafeS... CafeSasha

I don't think anyone is arguing that what Gisele said was reasonable. It was definitely ridiculously overstated, but I feel like the message she was TRYING to get across was not a bad one.

Phils... PhilsBabyMama

I agree with this post.  I think that what Gisele said came from a good place.  Breastfeeding is AWESOME!  The more you know, the better it is.  All babies deserve the best.  Then, when you actually nurse your child it is an amazing experience.  The knowledge that all your baby's needs are met by you is pretty incredible.  I think Gisele is very passionate about breastfeeding and didn't really take the time to think about phrasing her statement in a more PC way.  Hopefully in the future she'll remember the old saying "You attract more bees with honey than vinegar."  It's something I try (and sometimes fail) to keep in mind, as well.

jeann... jeannesager

I think to say her message "in context" is positive is disingenuous. You can't pick and choose which part of your message you like to hear anymore than we can say, pick which part of a law we want to follow.

She didn't say everyone should breastfeed for six months. She said there ought to be a law FORCING everyone to breastfeed. If she didn't mean it, frankly, she shouldn't have said it.

Let's stop trying to make her into a hero and find someone who IS modeling good parenting practices. Like supporting other moms and trying to fight for their six months maternity leave so they can breastfeed for that length of time.

Cafe... Cafe MicheleZ

As Barbara said, One mom doesn't have to be wrong for another to be right.

I believe what Gisele said came from a good place. It may have come out wrong, but sometimes that happens when you are in the media. She is passionate about BFing and that is wonderful. If ONE woman was encourged to BF as a result, then that is a positive thing.

The mat leave issue  Is a whole other article and concern.

Ashly... Ashlynnsmommy07

I agree with breastfeeding, but don't agree with people forcing their opinions on everyone else. I think if she hadn't said there should be a law no one would care. 

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