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An Interview: Breastfeeding101 – A portrayal of the pleasures & pains of breastfeeding

This is Annah

Malawian, age 29
Location A street corner in Lotus River, Cape Town, South Africa
Feeding her six-month-old child
Photographed November 2018

All the people who live here [in this compound] are also Malawian. They give me wonderful support and are so happy to see me breastfeed. Sometimes they’ll bring my son back to me when they see that he’s been playing for a long time. They’ll say, “The child is hungry now, you must feed him.” It’s the best thing. This morning I was bathing, and my neighbour was playing with my son. When he got sleepy, she came to me and said he must drink before he went to sleep. She said: “Hey sisi, he’s hungry; you must give him the breast, he’s hungry now.” They help me a lot.

It felt very easy when I first gave him my breasts. I was still young, and shy, but when I gave birth, I was so happy. Right at the beginning my breasts were so full. They told me to take some of the milk out [express it] and put it in a bottle, because the baby was still so young and only drinking little by little. I still like to breastfeed. My son drinks nicely and I’ve never had to worry that he hasn’t got enough food. Yoh! He drinks a lot of milk. He gets really full [laughs].

In 2019 I published my first book, Breastfeeding 101, which features candid portraits of 101 breastfeeding women as well their honest stories. In this blog post you see one of the mothers represented with her blurb from the book.

The idea for this book was unexpectedly sparked three years ago when I started seeing a lot of controversial social media content about breasts, nipples and breastfeeding.

Looking forward I hope my book can help normalise what is already a women’s most natural act. I would love to see the breastfeeding percentage rate in South Africa double. It came as a surprise to learn that, according to the 2018 statistics of the World Health Organisation (WHO), our country has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world.

Breastfeeding 101 features mothers from South Africa as well as around the globe and serves as a first-hand body of information – an unintentional handbook – directly from the women it captures.

Breastfeeding 101 is a book that wasn’t intended as a manual but may serve as one.

Basic info about the book:

Title: Breastfeeding 101
Publisher: Self-published via Staging Post
Format: Hardcover, 22 x 27cm, 224 pages
Price: ZAR385
Available for purchase via Exclusive Books, The Book Lounge and directly from the author.