Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Boob Juice...

…as a friend calls it, was on my mind on Sunday. A trip to the Accra Mall at 7p.m. brought up these thoughts. The mall was full of people (on a Sunday evening, what’s up with that?) so as I was walking my eyes wandered all over the place, somehow trying to determine why people were crowding at the mall. As I scoured the crowds, my eyes landed on a woman breastfeeding on a bench by the Game entrance.

Now I am all for breastfeeding in public. After all, it is a completely natural thing. Nobody should blame a woman for ‘whipping them out’ when her hungry child screams for food. And as for those who compare it to the sexual assault of a flasher, well that says more about their sick minds than the mothers nurturing their children.

And yet I couldn’t help but flinch at the sight of the woman on the bench facing the crowds exiting Game with her breasts hanging bare and a baby sucking on to the end of one nipple. What happened to the cute and practical breastfeeding tops? Or the budget option of a top over a tank top for easy access with a bit of concealment? Or just a little scarf or simply some discretion (even by a hand or arm), to conceal the baby’s head and give the whole feeding session some privacy?

It’s not the first time. Actually, most of the people I have seen breastfeeding in Ghana have done it in very unattractive ways, using their own hands to pull, tug and squeeze at their breasts, as if they were water sachets. And seeing that unappetising scene of the woman pulling her tank top down to her waist, exposing both drooping breasts, in that second, it felt more like an assault on my eyes, albeit not a sexual one, but an assault nonetheless and for a second, I forgot the ‘beautiful’ natural act she was performing.

Then again, I may not pay any thought to the attractiveness of it all, if it is my baby screaming for food.


Anonymous said...

Ahem, Maya!!! You will need to revisit this post in a few years when you have started breastfeeding. Please don't take this as an ambush but breast feeding niceties go out the door after the first week of having your wee one home. Concealing etc go out the door when it comes to practical necessities......

Picture this.....most newborns feed every 2-3 hours, NIGHT AND DAY round the clock, if you're lucky it is 3 hours.....1-2 hours is more likely, so imagine you're trying to run your regular errands and stay ahead of the curve in terms of the 1-2 hour feeding interval....and remember in between you have to handle diaper changes and potentially a gassy baby so in other words in between the 2 hour cycles, you must run errands, change poop, cuddle and pacify baby and be ready on the dot when that little one starts groping for the nipple AGAIN.....and then the cycle starts over PLUS YOU HAVE TO MAINTAIN SOME SENSE OF SANITY.

I lost any patience for decorum after the first week.....a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do :)

The Author said...


I haven't seen it done attractively in public.

But that may be because I haven't seen it done in public by a savvy (whatever that word means) woman.

Baby might be hungry and crying, but instead of bringing the jugs out in public, why don't you take the baby out of the public eye, first?

Maya Mame said...

Thank you, Sijui!
I was hoping any mothers reading this could put some sense into my head! I know I'll be bowing my head in shame after I get to experience that and then read this post again.

Still, saying that, Ghanaian women seem to add an extra touch of grimness to it by the way they manhandle their breasts. Somehow it's handled better abroad. Have you moved to Ghana yet? If so, let me know if you also notice any difference between how it's done here and abroad.

Still I agree with you and I'm ready to eat all the humble-pie I deserve!

Maya Mame said...

Nana Yaw,
I must warn you to tread carefully on this topic, because unfortunately you may never fully understand the desperation of hearing your baby screaming and doing everything you can to make the baby happy, no matter where or when.

However, I think you are right, I don't see women of a certain stature doing it in public in Ghana (I wonder why?), and those weren't the ones I was complaining about here. It may be that in Ghana breastfeeding in public is a class issue?

More investigations need to be done...

Anonymous said...

you are most welcome empathizing!!! :) For me personally, I love the breastfeeding atmosphere here, that is Ghana and in Kenya where I am from. I say that because in the States, breastfeeding is sadly still practised by a minority of women and consequently the stares and disapproving looks make one feel more self conscious than they should. Granted breastfeeding is now being aggressively promoted in the States, now with the statistics of autism, allergies and eating disorders, so there is a growing sense of solidarity and public places including work spaces are doing more to accomodate nursing mothers.

That being said, in Ghana there is no social stigma and it is wonderful to exchange knowing winks and smiles with about half a dozen mothers in a shop, or on the street, or in a bus.....all milking their little ones. Sadly I see us beginning to make the same mistakes in Ghana and other countries that the West is just now learning from......social class and stature are beginning to cloud judgements on what should be a nutritional and health issue, and of course promises of a hassle free and more convenient feeding option i.e. formula......so frankly urbanized, upwardly mobile women begin to make the false choice.

Anonymous said...

we are in Ghana, that is hubby and toddler!!!! I am still in between Accra and the States because of work requirements and are already checking out good pediatrician and OB/GYN facilities......we are told Lister Hospital is the best :)

Maya Mame said...

Akwaaba Sijui, lol!

I have heard about the way breastfeeding is frowned upon in the States, which is really sad. in Sweden it is so accepted and encouraged that it's turning the other way now, with women complaining about not being made to feel like good mothers when they don't breastfeed! I hope in Ghana people realise the values of breastfeeding. I actually hoped that the reason we don't see others breastfeeding in public is because they're doing it in their air-conditioned cars, it would be tragic if they are not breastfeeding at all, since that is the best, custom-designed food for a baby.

I will get back to you shortly on the maternity and baby care. Have heard that Lister is the best, my friend is giving birth there in a few weeks, but I also heard of a superb OB-GYN. Will google it and write about it!

Maya Mame said...

Below is the clinic a friend recommended, which is supposed to be even better than Lister:
Egon German Clinic
Mr Matti Darko, Director of Administion
No. 11 Yiyiwa St,Abelenkpe, PMB. CT 296 Cantonments-Accra Ghana
Accra, Ghana

Could be worth checking out, apparently that's where most ex-pats go to give birth and receive care.
Good luck!

Anonymous said...

bless you Maya! Thanks!


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