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Saturday 18 August 2018
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Judged for breastfeeding in public

The Global Breastfeeding Collective, led by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation through a 2018 Global Breastfeeding Scorecard has identified actions required to enable women to breastfeed.
Among the array of actions is creating the availability of community support programmes, and consistent monitoring for breastfeeding mothers. The Patriot spoke to a few mothers who have undergone the condescending stares from members of their community on several occasions after breastfeeding their infants in public spaces.
“I recall the times I had to breastfeed my daughter in public, people made it so difficult for me. Most of the times I had to forcefully cover myself with a cloth because the minute people saw that I tried breast feeding, they deemed it as inappropriate.
It was uncomfortable to breast feed while covered up because that’s not how it is supposed to be, one is supposed to feel free but I never felt free doing it”. These are the words of a first time mother, Hertha Uushona.
Uushona who wishes people’s negative perceptions on breastfeeding in public would change noted that the uncomfortable stares went as far as the doctors waiting room whenever she would take her daughter for a check-up.
“People in the waiting room would look at me as if I were walking around naked or committing a sin. I would at times literally sit and pray that my daughter would not get hungry, because I did not want to be glared at” she shared.
Uushona explained that people still do not look at breastfeeding as something that is normal but hopes that one day people would see breast feeding in public as a practise used to feed a new born baby because the nutrients that the baby gets from it, helps with growth.
“I only hope that new mothers do not ever have to experience the judgemental phase that most mothers have gone through while breast feeding in public.
We need to be able to freely feed our infants in order to avoid undernourishment” she said. Sofie Tjizu who has also experienced being judged for trying to breastfeed her son in public shared how she once found herself in an uncomfortable position in a restaurant.
“There was a couple seated across from where I was sitting, Because I was breasting feeding my son for a few months before switching to solids, I took out my breast because he was hungry. The couple sitting across me looked at me and started pointing at me and mumbling under their breaths.
As I was seated far I could not tell what they were saying but from their facial expressions, it was evident that it was not anything  pleasant because of the way in which they conducted themselves” she explained.
Tjizu noted that she hopes people would get over themselves and accept that there is a need for mothers to breast feed when their children are hungry regardless of where they maybe.
“We cannot be forced to feed our children in toilets when out in public because some of these toilets are dirty and infants are likely to easily get sick because of germs found in these toilets.
If people do not want us to breast feed in public then perhaps they should create clean and safe places for mothers to breastfeed in” she highlighted.
Mathilda Simon tells a different tale when it came to feeding her children, she explained that she did not have the opportunity to breast feed both her sons because she was not able to produce milk. This meant that she had to feed them formula milk but even with that she noted that she encountered several uncalled- for-opinions from people.
“People always kept saying that feeding the baby formula milk was better than taking out my breast in public, which I thought it was uncalled for because if I was able to breast feed I would do it even if it meant doing so in public,” she highlighted.
She said it is a pity that society has made it seem as if breast feeding in public contributes to public indecency,which should not be seen that way at all.
African Bank weighs in on breastfeeding
The African Development Bank this week called for a greater push for breastfeeding to jumpstart the wellbeing of the future generation. Having concluded World Breastfeeding Week on Tuesday, the African Development Bank has called on African countries to promote breast feeding as a means to give children a vital head start. The Bank is said to be currently in the process of engaging Heads of State and eminent leaders to create a prosperous and well-nourished Africa that protects, promotes and supports breastfeeding during the first 1000 days of a child’s life. This provides potential for children in Africa to grow. There are however still a number of African countries that fall short of exclusive breast feeding in the first six months.




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