The gestation period was long, but thanks to the iOS 11.1 update we are finally welcoming the breastfeeding emoji. The digital symbol was born this week, one year after the pregnant person emoji changed the way we text.
It may not seem like it, but this new breastfeeding emoji is a big deal. It wasn’t created just to add flair to digital conversations, but also to change the whole conversation about breastfeeding.
Adding this emoji to the deck normalizes nursing, so we’re so glad to see the folks at Apple got it right. They scrapped an early version that featured a headless mom (um, good, we’re not just breasts) and the final product features a smiling, emoji mom demonstrating a perfect cradle hold.
The cradle hold sees the baby’s head nestled in the nook of the nurser’s right arm while mama’s hand and arm support baby’s back and butt. It’s not the most common position for nursing a newborn, but for moms with bigger babies (or large breasts) it’s an optimal position for a breastfeeding session (but not the only one).
So how did the emoji designers end up with such a perfect depiction of nursing? Well, they started with some help from an expert. The breastfeeding emoji is the brainchild of Rachel Lee, a neonatal nurse at University College Hospital in London, who pitched the idea to Unicode, the organization in charge of emoji creation.
The baby bottle emoji has been around since 2010, so it’s about time that the breastfeeding symbol was added, too. This little pixel person serves as a reminder that breastfeeding is normal, and might even help us increase breastfeeding rates.
As lactation consultant Wendy Wisner wrote, “Children need to grow up seeing breastfeeding. It makes breastfeeding normal.”
According to Wisner, when kids see nursing, they learn about breastfeeding positioning, behavior and more. That’s why it’s so great that the new emoji’s cradle hold is so spot on. The breastfeeding emoji can’t talk, but that doesn’t mean she’s not teaching this generation of emoji-obsessed kids something.
The new emoji may also make asking your co-parent for a little help even easier. “Honey, can you get me a ?? I’m busy [insert breastfeeding emoji here].”
That’s pretty easy to peck out, even if your dominant hand is holding up a breast or a baby.