10:00 am EDT, May 10, 2015

‘Outlander’ scores win for nursing mothers

Outlander broke new ground again last night in a scene that every nursing mother can relate to.

How many times have we seen bare breasts on TV or in the movies? No doubt it’s more times than any of us can count. Next question: how many times have we seen a mother breastfeed her child on TV or in the movies? Probably not as many times as we’ve seen bared breasts, but in recent years this natural act is getting more airtime if the plot warrants it.

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Last question: How many times have we seen a nursing mother express her milk on TV or in the movies because she was away from her child and had no other alternative? We are pretty sure this is unique to Outlander, and that’s a shame. After all, all Outlander did was show what breasts are actually, biologically designed to do.

Nursing babies and the consequences of nursing babies was something that every 18th century woman and man was intimately acquainted with. With the average family size floating at around eight people, you’d have to be the most inobservant person on the planet not to notice. No one thought it odd that women would breastfeed their children in public. Bottles were a rarity.

In the United States it wasn’t until after World War I that infant formula and baby bottles started to become wide spread. By 1950 over half of all children were reared on formula. Breastfeeding finally made a comeback in the 1970’s, but nursing mothers still face criticism today for doing in public what is entirely natural.

The other brilliant thing that Outlander demonstrated last night was that all mothers who have recently given birth aren’t totally incapacitated and hormonal wrecks. Jenny manages to horseback ride (though we hope that saddle was padded), think rationally, and deal effectively with the necessity of expressing her milk.

Last night’s show was another score for Outlander in showing women’s issues without making it a women’s issues show. This season, Outlander has delivered the woman’s perspective on sex, realistic birth, and now breastfeeding. All these things were part of the show, but not the point of the particular episode. In other words, kind of like these issues take place in real life.

Once again women drove the action of the episode. Somehow they managed to do it without worrying about their physical appearance, having a catfight, or evaluating their self worth based on the man. There is in fact a man involved, but they are rescuing him, not the other way around. Again, it’s kind of like real life when women simply get the job done in adverse circumstances.


There are only two episodes left this season. As book fans know, Outlander will be breaking new ground again next week by tackling a subject that is almost never discussed, save on a rare episode of Law and Order SVU. Given the intelligent and realistic way they have treated other topics that are “controversial,” yet shouldn’t be controversial, we are anticipating yet another groundbreaking episode.

Outlander airs its penultimate episode on Saturday at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on Starz.

Join us on Monday night at 10:00 p.m. for Hangoutlander, our weekly, live, post-show Google Hangout that we do with the crew from That’s Normal. Use the hashtag #Hangoutlander to respond during the show on Twitter, or to ask a question/give a comment ahead of time. We can guarantee that we will have a lot to talk about this episode. Come and join in the fun.

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