“Breastfeeding is healthy for the baby, I get it. Just do it privately or in a restroom” – Kagiso
“Breastfeeding puts me off my food. The sight of her nipple and the loud sucking noise of the baby is distracting” – Isaac
“I don’t mind my wife breastfeeding privately but I do not want her to do it publicly. I don’t want other men to see her breasts” – Kudzai
Breastfeeding benefits both baby and mother. It is a vital part of any infant’s development offering not only nutrients but also antibodies that fight off viruses and bacteria. However breastfeeding in public is still seen as “inappropriate” and “provocative”. Working mothers are judged when feeding their babies during their daily economic activities in society. This is particularly felt in the informal sector or rural areas where women’s work requires working in public spaces e.g. in informal markets or tilling the fields. Working mothers in rural areas and the informal sector face a hard choice. It is either stay at home or go to work and give the baby formula milk- which is not financially sustainable for most.
Breastfeeding in public should be recognised as a human right not just a feminist issue. Men and boys should be enlightened that breasts are functional organs that are instrumental in nourishing babies. Breastfeeding in public (and work) is supported legally in many African countries but still taboo in society. Governments should step up in to support and promote breastfeeding through legislation, policies and programmes.
The discussion on breastfeeding can be a heated. Should she? When should she? How should she? Where should she? The answer should be a resounded “yes !”
She is Africa is a free, informative website. If you find value in any of my content, please consider making a donation to keep She is Africa running.