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

This is Annemarie

Dutch/Indonesian, age 36
Location On a bicycle track, Máximapark, Utrecht, the Netherlands
Feeding her 16-month-old child
Photographed July 2018

It was a team effort in the beginning. I’d pump and my husband fed the milk to him. We needed to do that for quite a while until he understood how to drink straight from the breast. I made a device, like a broad elastic band with a clip and I cut two holes in it for the pumps to attach to the nipple – that way I could pump and have my hands free, lah lah lah [singing]. I’d even forget I was pumping until it overflowed [laughs]. It made all the difference because I was able to do other things at the same time.

I almost always expressed in private but once, at a weekend-away workshop I had to pump during lunch. I knew I could sit in the changing room but then I thought to myself that I knew all these people quite well, so I just switched on the pump and covered it partially with my jacket and joined lunch. I announced what I was doing and then everyone passed me food and things [laughs]. Mostly though, you really have to stand up for yourself. Like, “I’m just not making food in a toilet.”

Now we feed mostly just in the morning and evening. I’ll lie on my back with a pillow behind me and he just crawls all over me, then slurp! He sucks my nipple up and has his bum in the air and he just crawls all over; over my head, with his tummy in my face, playing in my hair – he makes the funniest moves to feed. He’s became totally experimental. I just lie there like his playground. This makes it very difficult to feed in public [laughs]. Once I held him upside down for ten to 15 seconds while he was drinking, so funny. If he can latch, then he can drink.  He loves that time he gets with me, I think.

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.