Sunday, July 1, 2007

Breasts, not just for selling cars anymore.

Today I'm talking about Breast Feeding. Yeeaaah.

I'm going to say words like breasts and nipples a lot here, so if you are uncomfortable with words like that you should move along, perhaps after asking yourself if you are also uncomfortable with words like Feet and Knees. No Judgement, just something to think about.

I said it... Breast Feeding, not Baby Feeding. We're a little bit afraid of the word, here and everywhere. I applaud Muscat private hospital for providing a quiet room next to the paediatric area for "baby feeding" But I think in a hospital of all places we might be able to use the word breast publicly and in a non-sexual way. It's like there is something a little dirty or impure about using the word breast to describe the way we should feed our babies. I also applaud City plaza / Centerpoint for providing a fantastic room complete with comfortable chairs where I can nurse my daughter in comfort and quiet. Centerpoint gets a huge portion of my husband's paycheck because of this.

I'll come back to lactation location stuff in a minute. First though, according to an article featured on :

Given the importance of breastfeeding in the Islamic religion, the low rates of compliance among Muslim women in North America are puzzling. Although a formal research study has not been conducted, it seems upon observation that the breastfeeding rate among Muslim women is actually lower than among the population at large. There are small pockets of "fundamentalist" Muslim women who are well educated and adamant about nursing their children under their chadors, and who often practice natural childbirth and home schooling. However, those mothers who nurse their babies past the age of one year are the exception rather than the rule. There seems to be a lighthearted attitude among the general Muslim populace towards the bottle-feeding of infants. It is not frowned upon, and it is rarely something people even question.

And wow, is the author right about that or what? We were deluged with visitors after the birth of our daughter and one of the most noticeable thing that set the Arab, American and Indian visitors apart from the European visitors was their queries regarding weather I was supplementing with formula bottles or porridge yet.
  • The Euros were totally Rah-rah about breast feeding, arriving en masse with children, teens and husbands in tow, many taking pictures of me nursing the baby! Euros are buoyed by years of militant La leche league rhetoric, strict laws in place for the marketing of baby formula, and a culture that brought us topless sunbathing.
  • The Arabs, Americans and Indians by comparison, were usually groups of women (my best friend Tariq sent his sisters, whom I hardly know. bless.) who began to advise, from the second week on, that perhaps I should consider supplementing with formula or wheat porridge.
  • I should add that I didn't breastfeed in front of most of my male Arab/ American friends, because they thought it was pretty weird. I was like, Ahmed * you've been trying to see my breasts since the day I met you. This is your chance bud. Don't let the baby attached to them put you off... *not his real name

I don't know what that means, or what the socio-political drivers behind the divergent opinions are. Just my observation.

Despite the fact that Islam tells us to breast feed for two years if possible there seems to be little support for it in the larger community. Shopping centers, workplaces, and even the airport usually lack a place that's appealing or even suitable for breastfeeding. I don't think we will ever be the sort of place where a lady can just whip out a boob wherever she is and feed her child, so private, hygienic, and quiet areas should be more widely available and labeled appropriately.

I would be interested to know how and where other mothers feed their children when you are out and about, and after you have returned to work from maternity leave. Ladies, Husbands, and trolls, speak up and let me know where you go to nurse your child when you are away from the home.


A few other facts that I came across while researching this entry. The statistics are really, really, super interesting.

  • Some statistics from the La Leche League
  • And from UNICEF
  • At a speech in Manila last week, WHO Reigonal director Shigeru Omi stated that there are "roughly 160,000 children dying anually in Eastern and Southeastern Asia whose deaths are attributed to something as preventable and immanently correctable as sub optimal breastfeeding".
  • If you are not a religious sort, Science, economic data, the WHO, UNICEF and medical experts tell us that breastfeeding for at least a year, and preferably more is the best possible way to nourish your child.
  • Oman is doing pretty well according to this index that compared breastfeeding trends worldwide.
  • Although the following quote from an unnamed source is rather disturbing. the question was :Should a woman be entitled to daily break(s) to nurse her child? If so, should such breaks be counted as working time and remunerated accordingly? And the answer? The national economy should not have to assume the burden of nursing breaks, as long as bottle-feeding is available. Not as enlightened as one would hope.


Khan said...

And wow, is the author right about that or what? We were deluged with visitors after.....

>>>>In those times, u could use ur separate room for breast-feeding. I hope since u r so 'popular', u might have wise enough frnds to understand the conditions. And babies wont drink milk for hours together.

Shopping centers, workplaces, and even the airport usually lack a place that's appealing or even suitable for breastfeeding. I don't think we will ever be the sort of place where a lady can just whip out a boob wherever she is and feed her child, so private, hygienic, and quiet areas should be more widely available and labeled appropriately.

I didn't know that mothers across the world keep going around shopping, traveling, even working(maternity leave!!)...from the time they wake up till they go to bed after the child is born. Dats a big news to me.

Suburban said...

Hi Khan,

Thanks for stopping by.

You missed the point of the first paragraph you quoted. Perhaps I should have made that clearer. The point of that paragraph was

a) the difference in attitudes towards exclusive breastfeeding between Europeans and non Euros and

B) to underline the attitude amongst non Europeans that supplementing with formula and porriges is not only accpetable, but encouraged.

I don't care if people want to take pictures of me nursing my girl, that's cool. hell, throw a parade. I can also appreciate that people don't want to watch me nursing the girl, and as you suggested I could take her away to another room in my house.

And Khan, I am 'popular', but I think most newly delivered women have lots of visitors.

Regarding the second part of your reply,

I didn't know that mothers across the world keep going around shopping, traveling, even working(maternity leave!!)...from the time they wake up till they go to bed after the child is born. Dats a big news to me.

Well Khan, here at OtherOman we are dedicated to providing you with cutting edge news 24/7.

Mothers all over the world like to be able to feed thier babies when the babies are hungry. Mothers all over the world also like to shop for groceries, pick the car up from service, attend doctors appointments, continue thier careers, drop older children off at school, eat out, and attend classes.

In the course of doing these things I have fed my daughter in a number of interesting places, as follows. next to the ladies prayer room at carrefour, in the baby room at city plaza, in a managers office at Sultan centre, in the bathroom at CCC, in the back of a hot car parked facing a wall in Quriat, In a hot car parked on the side of the road in a traffic Jam, In the car stranded in a shell station during a 45 minute blockade of the roads for visiting dignaitaries, roasting in a tent on the beach at Tiwi, in the libriary room at the Al Husn in Barr al Jissa, in the toilet of a gas station in Nizwa, where the potty didn't flush and there was shit (yes, lots of human shit) on the floors and the walls.

So what I'm asking here, is where does everybody else nurse thier kids when they are out?

Khan, since you like news so much, Let me provide you with a couple of additional news flashes you might find equally interesting;

a)It usually takes about 25 minutes to give a newborn baby a full meal by breast, longer if they keep dozing off. THat's a long time to stand leaning against the sink in a shit covered restroom.

b) A young baby needs to eat about every two to four hours, max. As far as I am aware, a workday lasts about eight hours, and a grocery shopping trip, to carrefour or Sultan center (if one accounts for a possible traffic jam) would take at least two hours.

c)You try taking a four leg flight with four stopovers entailing changing planes and waiting for connecting flights with a four month old baby sometime. Then tell me that you can't fathom why a mother would want somewhere descreet and clean to nurse her child. THose screaming babies on airplanes would be a lot quieter if they had a boob to suck on.

Maybe, in your rush to be offended that my child wants and desirves the right to eat when she is hungry, you didn't really bother to read my post or fully consider the case I am making. Or maybe you're just an asshole :)

Anonymous said...


Obviously a bit of a sore point... but I can understand that, as I've never had to try and feed a baby in a literal shit hole.

I was amazed by the stats. Even a [metaphorical] shit hole like North Korea still has more than 20% giving babies formula rather than breast, and this in a country where they can't feed themselves as adults. And the Phillipines at less than 20% breast feeding is incredible. I should have bought shares in Nestle!

I guess it just shows how much breasts in the zeitgeist have become associated with sex rather then feeding babies. World wide. I'm sure lots of Omani women would also be with you in making Oman a baby friendly place. Campain?

And Khan is just winding you up. Probably. Or maybe deep down he can't bear the thought of when he was a baby and sucked on his mother's breasts. With gusto. And enjoyed it. Who are we to interfere with a good ol'Oedipus complex? Be kind Suburban!

You couldn't wip a tit out in the 'States either. Maybe Holland and Denmark. We have soooooo far to go....


Anonymous said...

I think you'll find that Oman is considered, by the WHO, an ideal model for breast feeding and weaning.

I've fed 5 children at various time throughout the day in various places, it can be done very discreetly and even when its not been possible to be as discreet as I would has ever said anything to me. Here in Oman a child being fed is a child being fed....end of story.

As for the bay feeding, I think you're being a tad pedantic when it comes to something that was probably a mistake with language. you only have to walk round the gynae area in MPH to see pictures of breast fed babies being fed.

Suburban said...

JP, Cheers man. I overreaccted. Loved the "with gusto"part.


Can you sign off on your comments with an initial or something so I know which ones are from you and which ones are from random trolls?

All good points there. I don't think there's a huge problem here, that wasn't the point of my post.... The question was where do you guys feed your babies? Though the airport really should offer somewhere more private for ladies to nurse thier babies. Tourists who are trying to be sensitive to the culture might find it pretty uncomfortable to nurse there.

Maybe I'm too paranoid about accidentally flashing tit and offending someone, and I don't need to be hiding in restrooms or offices to feed the princess.

also, good use of the word Pedantic. I bet you really kick ass at crosswords.

Saudi Stepford Wife-Daisy said...

i am so glad you posted a comment on my blog so it gave me a chance to track back to yours....this stuff is great!!!

My inlaws always blame my son's small stature on the fact I don't supplement with formula. His reflux, the fact that his sisters were little butterballs and I produce milk like a Holstein apparantly don't factor in.

I can so totally empathize with you, just yesterday I made my hubby drive around an empty street till I finished breast-feeding my son (almost the same age as your daughter) because if the car was still, the a/c blows hot air!

In America I used to wear big, square-shaped headscarves, folded into a triangle with the ends tied behind my neck. Whenever I'd breastfeed, I'd just untie the ends which would then curtain my chest but allow for air to circulate as I held the end taunt in one hand. This is crucial so when the baby moves, I don't flash my tit to the world at large. Normally, no one has a clue and it just looks like the baby's sleeping.

Another thing I've done is use one of those enormouse rectangular cotton headscarves and tied it at my shoulder, wrapped around like a loose sling (it doesn't need to be taunt or tight). I have a gauzy black one which doesn't stand out from my abaya but allows for maximum airflow. I did this at a park at the beach, on a windy day, and my kid sat within the little sling tent and despite his movements, I didn't become exposed and he drank his fill.

Lately I tried feeding my son at an outdoor fair... a difficult accomplishment indeed! I didn't have my "sling-thing" so I tried feeding him by sticking him under my abaya. It was already really hot and sticky and despite the fact that I kept it open at the top to allow for airflow, he was all sweaty and sticky and didn't drink much.

Since this is my third kid I've gotten better at doing this in public but yes, it's still a pain and attitudes in the area don't help.

Suburban said...


Thank you so much for your visit here and for the really, really really excelent ideas about how to feed the princess descreetly. Sister, you are rad. Tonight I'm going to give the sling idea a go.

Thanks also for your kind complement on the blog, I really wish I could write like you do. our vocabulary and timing are the stuff on genius.

Wardat_il'7leej said...

Can u suggest a breast pump? works wonders when your on the go :)