Breastfeeding wherever, whenever a baby gets hungry is perfectly legal, and deserves to be fully supported. Shaming moms into desperately breastfeeding their babies, or expressing breastmilk in cold toilet cubicles and cramped cars in parking lots is the real problem.
In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week 2019, ADSA (The Association for Dietetics in South Africa) asked a panel of registered dieticians, who also happen to be past and current breastfeeding moms, to find out how family, friends, businesses, shops, corporates and public spaces can enable mothers to breastfeed.
Here’s how they feel about public breastfeeding:
“More shops, restaurants and other public spaces need to declare their support for breastfeeding moms to normalise breastfeeding. All work places need to have a policy around support for breastfeeding mothers, and take action to support breastfeeding moms returning to work.” – Nazeeia Sayed
Respect my choice
“My friends need to respect my space and choice of breastfeeding. They should not bring baby dummies and formulas to my baby shower. I want my friends to respect that I choose to give my baby the breast, not milk from containers. Also, I do not want friends bringing teething biscuits as they contribute to mixed feeding. Breast is best exclusively for six months, and that’s an important goal for breastfeeding moms.” – Thembekile Dhlamini
A support structure is important
“Family is so important. My mother, sister, husband and extended family were all on my side. They fed me while I fed my babies! They also cuddled, winded, bathed and changed nappies so that I could shower, eat, and sleep. There is power in the family circle!” – Lisanne Du Plessis
Offer to help with chores
“Breastfeeding takes a lot of time and energy; and only a mom can do it. Please support mothers by helping to take other tasks off her plate that anyone can do. At home, this can mean tidying the kitchen or doing the laundry. At work, this can mean delegating tasks that are easily transferable so that the overall load on a new mom doesn’t become overbearing.” – Nathalie Mat
We need a safe space for breastfeeding moms
“Family members need to be careful about not telling a first-time-mom what to do, what to feel and what not to do. Each mom will find her own way. When it comes to public spaces, we definitely need to have many more public environments in which mom can breastfeed comfortably, and these need to be welcoming, clean and attractive spaces.” – Nasreen Jaffer
“Breastfeeding needs to be openly welcomed. A salute to Spur restaurants, which has a public pro-breastfeeding policy. We need many more corporates to normalise and encourage breastfeeding.” – Chantell Witten
Make the work environment breastfeeding-friendly
“Businesses need to look at longer maternity leave to give moms a bit more time to ensure their breastfeeding is well established. They can provide breastfeeding mothers with flexi time to enable them to breastfeed when they need to can make a big difference. Childcare facilities at the workplace could benefit both the business and the mom as the mother can continue breastfeeding while at work. Providing dedicated, private and relaxing areas for moms to feed and express breast milk is vital.” – Maryke Gallagher
Essentially, while breastfeeding is a deeply intimate time-bound bond shared between mom and baby, it remains a team-supported effort. As the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) states: “Breastfeeding is in the mother’s domain and when fathers, partners, families, workplaces, and communities support her, breastfeeding improves.”
We can all play our part in enabling breastfeeding for the greater good by protecting, promoting and supporting it.
For information on World Breastfeeding Week 2019 visit www.worldbreastfeedingweek.org.
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