Interviews & Conversations Projects Women I've Shot

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

This is Emma

South African, age 31
Location- at the Christ Church in Kenilworth, Cape Town.
Feeding her 8 week old daughter
Photographed October 2019

The team and info surrounding a woman from pregnancy through to breastfeeding can shape her self belief and motherhood experience dramatically. At a time when women are at their most vulnerable – too often we are bombarded with misinformation. I am both proud and grateful to have been empowered by factually correct pro-natural antenatal classes, a natural, unmedicated birth and pro-breastfeeding practical support. (eg. immediate skin-to-skin after birth and an undisturbed first hour with baby) which was all made possible by the outstanding Birth Options Midwifery team and my supportive husband.

Cape Town based Birth Options has a 82% vaginal birth rate and a 14% emergency c-section rate (based on 2014-2018 client) proving that gynae’s are not required at the vast majority of births. This is in stark contrast to South Africa’s private sector c-section rate of an alarming 73%.
When Im facing breastfeeding challenges  (which we continue to do- its not always easy) my team of midwives’ complete confidence in me and my baby’s design inspires me to seek the help and support we need and to stick with it! I strongly believe that what the recently launched Right to Birth SA movement stands for (i.e. the right to chose how and with whom you birth) has the power to directly impact South African womens breastfeeding journeys.

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 a short personal blurb about her breastfeeding journey.

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.