Cultural Obstacles Vs. Biological Imperatives for Breastfeeding, a New Video from The Field Museum in Chicago


About the Breast Episode Ever Video

How We Do It

The Brain Scoop is based out of The Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois and is devoted to exploring the behind-the-scenes work of natural history museums and celebrating the diversity of this amazing world. 

In the Breast Video Ever, Brain Scoop discusses the biological and evolutionary imperatives of human breastfeeding over the last 80 million years with Dr. Robert Martin, author of How We Do It (see book right) and the Curator of Biological Anthropology at the Field Museum to learn more about the history of human reproduction, right. Check out his blog at Psychology Today.

In this video learn:

  • How the cultural message that it wasn’t necessary for women to carry and nurse their babies was engineered in “total opposition to our biology and 80 million years of evolution.”
  • Why do we stop breastfeeding six month to a year when we’re “supposed to breastfeed babies to three to seven years?”
  • If human breastmilk is more closely related to horse milk than cow’s milk, why are we consuming cow’s milk?
  • Horse milk supports human brain growth, not cow’s milk!
  • We should not go back to being hunter-gathers, but mother-infant contact “has been important for 80 million years” so telling mothers “to put their babies away is not a good idea.” The US is “appalling” for “throwing their mothers and babies to the wolves” by not providing maternity leave as is done in all other parts of the world.  


About How We Do It

Cited by NPR as “the best reads for 2013,” this book draws on forty years of research into the roots of everything from sex cells to infant care. It examines the reproduction of humans and our primate kin to reveal the natural basis for conceiving, developing and rearing babies. Although we cannot return to raising our children as our ancestors did, there are surprising consequences of how we do things now. For instance, breastfeeding has multiple advantages for both mothers and babies, which need attention when breast-feeding is not an option, and babies may be ready for toilet training far earlier than commonly thought.


About Robert Martin, PhD

Robert Martin, Ph.D., is the A. Watson Armour III Curator of Biological Anthropology at the Field Museum in Chicago, as well as a member of the Committee on Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago. He was previously on the faculty of University College London, a visiting professor of anthropology at Yale, a visiting professor at the Musée de l’Homme, Paris, and the director of the Anthropological Institute in Zurich.

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Producer, Writer, Creator, Host:
Emily Graslie

Producer, Editor, Camera:
Tom McNamara

Theme music:
Michael Aranda

Created By:
Hank Green

Production Assistant:
Katie Kirby

Thanks to Dr. Robert Martin for taking the time to chat with us about his book!

Special thanks to Cassie Pontone in Anthropology for helping with archival research!

And as always, thanks to our incredible translators, including Jose Taveras and Tony Chu, for working on the captions for this episode.

Filmed on Location and Supported by:
The Field Museum in Chicago, IL

  1. The Baby Maven says

    What a cool video! With so much media and hype surrounding breastfeeding in public these days, it’s interesting to know a bit more of the background information.

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