3 breakthrough moments in the fight to breastfeed 'whenever, wherever'

07 August 2018 - 17:56 By Zola Zingithwa
Mara Martin breastfeeds her daughter while walking the ramp at the Sports Illustrated swimsuit show in Miami.
Mara Martin breastfeeds her daughter while walking the ramp at the Sports Illustrated swimsuit show in Miami.
Image: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated

It's the tail end of World Breastfeeding Week (August 1 to 7). Dedicating a whole week to celebrating breastfeeding might seem strange, but it turns out it’s an important initiative because many people are still a little sensitive about seeing babies getting their daily nutrition in public spaces.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that women breastfeed their newborns for the first six months, so it's unfair that moms are sometimes made to feel uncomfortable about doing so in public.

As former Miss SA Jo-Ann Strauss recently posted on Instagram, "Even if it offends you, I'm going to feed my baby whenever and wherever because it's good for my child. If it offends you, look away. It offends me that it offends you, so there, we're even."

Here are some other woman whose actions have spoken loudly about the right for mothers to breastfeed their children "whenever and wherever" they need to:

THE TIME A MODEL BREASTFED ON THE CATWALK

Model Mara Martin made headlines in July when she strutted down the catwalk breastfeeding her baby during the Sports Illustrated swimsuit show in Miami.

According to an article on TimesLIVE, this was no publicity stunt. Apparently the show was running late and Martin's five-month-old daughter needed dinner, so one of the Sports Illustrated team suggested she nurse her while walking the ramp. A move, she later said in an Instagram post, she hoped would help to normalise breastfeeding.

Both Martin and Sports Illustrated received a lot of praise from the public, but as always not all social media users were impressed, with one tweep noting, “They make breast pumps for a reason".

THE TIME AN MP BREASTFED IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS

After making history as the first cabinet minister to go on maternity leave in Canada, Karina Gould made headlines again in June, when she was seen feeding her three-month-old baby in the House of Commons while parliament was in session.

According to the Huffington Post, many parents across Canada praised her for normalising what is a very natural activity. However, many on social media still chose to disparage her actions either by telling her to cover up or by refraining from feeding her baby at work.

But as Gould eloquently tweeted, “no shame in breastfeeding! Baby's gotta eat”.

THE TIME A MOM INSPIRED A BREASTFEEDING FIRST IN INDIA

In January in India, a man posted a picture of his wife openly breastfeeding on Facebook, which caused a huge controversy.

So much so that the team at Grihalakshmi, an Indian woman's magazine, decided to take action. They dedicated their entire March issue to breastfeeding moms, hoping to normalise the practice by sharing their stories.

"Breasts are perceived in a sexual manner, even when a mother feeds her child. [In India] it is not just men, but even women who stare if a mother feeds her baby in public," the magazine's editor-in-chief, Moncy Joseph, told The News Minute.

Joseph went on to say that new mothers often had to let their children cry of hunger as breastfeeding in public is so taboo in many parts of the country. "This has to change," Joseph added.

According to the BBC, Grihalakshmi's March issue (pictured) may well be the first time a woman breastfeeding has appeared on an Indian magazine cover.

 Of course that also caused its own controversy, but no surprises there.


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