World Health Organisation, WHO, during the World Breastfeeding Week, WBW, marked recently, brought the importance of breastfeeding a child within the first hour of birth to the attention of women, and mothers around the globe. It noted that newborns who breastfeed in the first hour of life are significantly more likely to survive, and warned that even a delay of a few hours after birth could pose life-threatening consequences.
It is common practice in Nigeria for a mother to be yelled at to feed her child in public once a baby starts to cry irrespective of the place, most times, in a commercial bus. In this vox pop, Women’s Hub questions if public breastfeeding is appropriate.
Women shouldn’t shy away from breastfeeding their children anywhere. I can breastfeed my kids anywhere. Just try to package properly so you don’t harass people with your breasts. It’s a thing of pride to be able to breastfeed a child. People feed their children outside with plastic bottles. Breastfeeding is just feeding a child. As simple as that.
-BeeCee Ugbor, Relationship Expert, song writer, and radio and TV host
Well, it depends on the kind of ‘public’ I can feed my baby anywhere as long I’m away from prying eyes. If I’m at a public place, I will find secluded place to feed to my child because I can’t starve the child. But it’s kind of awkward breastfeeding in front of non-relatives.
-Uche Ukaegbu Kama, writer and blogger
For me, I can’t breastfeed my child anywhere in public. I don’t see it as appropriate. I won’t feel comfortable.
-Williams Elizabeth Talatu, National Deputy Coordinator, AFriYAN, Nigeria
There is nothing bad in that. If you fail to breastfeed your baby in public, you’re depriving your baby of his own child right. Because as soon you put to birth, the baby has his own rights, and if the baby needs food and you deny him, even our law enforcement should be able to sue that person. People who fail to breastfeed their babies in public do so because of the kind of dresses they wear. You cannot be a breastfeeding mother and you wear gown, tight-fitting clothes and think that you can conveniently bring out breast in public.
-Abigail Adeyemi, Lawyer
Choosing a closed corner of the public domain to breastfeed our baby is really not a problem. But if there’s no secluded area, why not, my baby has to be breastfed anyway, anytime. The fact is I will choose she feeds our baby anyway. Commercial bus, malls, churches and all. I believe in taking care of choices about baby first before any other. No mother reserves the right to deny food for the baby. Come to think of it we cannot be saying we wish to achieve total wellbeing of our babies (children) if we keep taking care of our issues before theirs. They are humans too and should be accorded that respect, rights and freedom.
-Ekene Odigwe, on-air personality
Public breastfeeding is somewhat subjective, the general perception is more of a no do! Personally, I don’t encourage my wife breastfeeding in public, not because of her exposing her nakedness (breast), but because of hygiene.
But it is ideal that if circumstances warrant for such, it is only proper for the lady to excuse herself and attend to the baby immediately. I am not an advocate for commercial bus breast-feeding.
-Akin Obakeye, journalist
Well nothing really wrong with it but a public bus isn’t the best place to breast feed – there are exceptions when it comes to how cranky the child gets you have no option but to feed anywhere it’s completely normal.
– Dennis Okpokpor: CEO Dxtraordinaire
It’s actually a two way thing. Personally I don’t like it. But looking at it from the point of view of the new born baby who is craving to be breast fed by the mother I will say it’s not really bad. But exposing your breast in public isn’t so cool.
– Ugwu Somto: Lawyer, and Head of the Gender and Child Department, Society for Improvement of Rural People, SIRP