This unforgettable ‘Sesame Street’ episode is considered to be the first depiction of breastfeeding on TV

The singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie made history in 1977 when she fed her infant on Sesame Street.

The Indigenous Canadian American singer-songwriter was not doing anything unusual; she was feeding her kid.

However, the fact that she was breastfeeding him was important because breastfeeding in the United States had reached an all-time low in 1971 and was making a comeback.

Buffy Sainte-Marie singing for kids on an episode of Sesame Street

It was even more noteworthy when she did it in public on a children’s television program because those who oppose nursing in public sometimes raise the concern, “What if children see?”

However, Big Bird’s charming exchange with Sainte-Marie, asking her what she was doing, made the “Sesame Street” episode stand out the most.

Buffy Sainte-Marie and Big Bird talking about breastfeeding on and episode of Sesame Street.

“I’m feeding the baby,” Sainte-Marie told him. “See? He’s drinking milk from my breast.”

Sainte-Marie did not show anything that may be considered unpleasant, but she also did not have her infant hidden under a blanket, according to Upworthy.

Moreover, while Big Bird could see what was happening, Sainte-Marie was quite comfortable.

Buffy Sainte-Marie hugging a horse puppet in Sesame Street

“Hmm… that’s a funny way to feed a baby,” Big Bird said after hearing what Sainte-Marie told him.

It is so wonderful to watch Sainte-Marie’s and Big Bird’s conversation as she answers his question with straightforward, honest responses without judgment.

It is incredible that some people still object to seeing a mother breastfeed in public 46 years after the children’s show episode played on TV.

Gordon and Oscar in an old, black and white photo of Sesame Street

Despite waves of education and lobbying aimed at normalizing breastfeeding, it was not until 2018 that all 50 states in the US had legislation in place protecting breastfeeding mothers from violations and fines.

Some mothers continue to get criticism for feeding their children in public rather than hiding it.

Yahoo Life interviewed Sainte-Marie about the “Sesame Street” segment.

According to her, she got pregnant during the show’s second season, brought her baby on set all the time, and was breastfeeding her baby off camera.

Then one day, she inquired whether the program could address nursing.

Buffy Sainte-Marie interview with Yahoo Life

“The reason why I did that really was because when I woke up from delivering my baby, I was in the hospital, and over here on the table was a big basket of stuff from some formula company. And I preferred to breastfeed, but the doctors didn’t understand about breastfeeding. They hadn’t learned it.”

“It wasn’t a thing. It wasn’t controversial,” she explained. “I suggested it to the producers, who were just wonderful, by the way. They never stereotyped me into being the “Sesame Street Indian.”

“We did segments on sibling rivalry, breastfeeding, multiculturalism, travel, all kinds of things besides Indigenous things,” she concluded.

Sesame Street's Ernie, Mr. Hooper, and Bert talking

Despite our progress in educating people about breastfeeding, the CDC reports that most doctors still lack adequate knowledge and training in the subject.

Breastmilk is the greatest source of nourishment for most babies, and it lowers the risk of various diseases in both mothers and babies.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists all advise exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months or so, followed by continued breastfeeding for one year or longer while introducing complementary foods.

Bob McGrath and two puppets singing "in the neighborhood" on Sesame Street

Whether and how long newborns are nursed depends on a variety of circumstances.

Physicians start promoting breastfeeding during pregnancy and continue to do so throughout the intrapartum and postpartum periods.

To assist families in achieving their breastfeeding goals, doctors should support and manage to breastfeed as trusted health consultants.

Buffy receiving her Academy Award in 1983

However, data indicate that most physicians need more breastfeeding information and training.

Proper training in breastfeeding can help them obtain the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to support families and promote breastfeeding-friendly policies.

Meanwhile, singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie became the first Indigenous person to win an Academy Award when her song, “Where We Belong,” won the Best Original Song in 1983, a few years after leaving “Sesame Street,” said The Daily Mail.

Buffy Sainte-Marie portrate.

She also co-wrote the song for the film “An Officer and a Gentleman” with Jack Nitzsche and Will Jennings.

More than three decades later, in 2015, she received Canada’s Polaris Music Prize for her album “Power in the Blood.”

Moreover, a documentary about Sainte-Marie’s life and career, “Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On,” was launched at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2022.

Watch her Yahoo Life interview about the wonderful “Sesame Street” episode below:

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