I belong to a Facebook group called "black women do breastfeed" it is an awesome group where black women, mostly those based in the United States share their breastfeeding stories while encouraging others to breastfeed. It was in that group I first learnt that the breastfeeding rate among blacks in America is low compared to white Americans . Reasons on further research why this is so includes socio-economic factors and social stigma.
Black women in Africa do breastfeed. Okay, let me speak for Nigeria. In Nigeria, breastfeeding is taken for granted. It is extremely rare to see a nursing mum who is not breastfeeding. It is almost unheard of, except for health reasons
In Nigeria we breastfeed and breastfeed hard. The average age of weaning a baby off it's mother's breast milk is one year. If not for the rapidly increasing rate of public breastfeeding shaming, a breastfeeding mum used to be a very frequent sight. You saw them in the bus, in church, in public gatherings and in fact every where. We still see them anyway, but with a lot more decorum. They no more bare their breasts. Now you would hardly see the breast, the only evidence of breastfeeding is the baby who is held in a breastfeeding position and whose sucking motion is obvious. Not like we care anyway, a mum has to do what she needs to do.
Nigerian mums breastfeed the best they can. They derive joy in being sources of nourishment to their kids. Breastfeeding cuts across class, tribe and tongue in Nigeria.
I fed my child on breast milk alone for almost the first six months of his life. There were instances when he was hungry in very busy places and I had to breastfeed. I have done that in church, at airports, in banks, and even in shopping malls. I simply find a corner, some quiet, some not, to feed my son and I have no apologies whatsoever . I have even had people offer me spaces in their offices to nurse, sensing I was uncomfortable doing so in public. I only started accepting the offers when my son became easily distracted and I needed to nurse in quiet places.
Whenever I see a mum breastfeeding in public, I give her an encouraging look. It is not easy . In as much as I value decency, but what should a mother do when her baby is very hungry and needs to breastfeed? Let the baby starve? Definitely not an option.
While our builders and government have not deemed it fit to put nursing rooms in their plans while constructing public places (even though I detested the few nursing rooms I entered abroad), we still need to feed our babies and breastfeed we must.
This write-up is therefore a thumbs-up to all mums who are confident enough to ignore the shaming and feed their little ones when they need it in public. Only few of us consider it an eyesore when a lady displays her breasts in the name of fashion, but majority of us do so when it is done as a result of feeding another human. I consider that to be double standard We need to feed our babies and if it is not so comfortable for your eyes, simply look away. Our babies must feed.