Tag Archives: breastfeeding

Stigmas Against Breastfeeding in Public

17 May

Throughout my time in Botswana, I saw and experienced many stigmas, including surrounding breastfeeding. It was expected that all new mothers should breastfeed and that if she did not breastfeed it was assumed that she was HIV-positive. Therefore, mothers would proudly breastfeed wherever she was – at a shop, on the bus, or at a restaurant. 

In Canada, we still have the expectation that all mothers should breastfeed. However, it is stigmatized whenever a woman does it in public. I worked as a lifeguard at a public pool and since it is legal in Ontario for a woman to be topless (regardless of if she is breastfeeding), we could not ask a woman to not breastfeed. But, if another customer complains about it, then we were instructed to tell the breastfeeding mother that she was making others uncomfortable. I have heard similar stories of this happening in many public areas.

So while society expects women to breastfeed, women are shamed for doing it publicly. They are expected to breastfeed – but only in private or with a scarf or blanket covering their breast.

Why does this stigma exist?

Please read the rest of this post, originally published on the International Women’s Initiative Survivors’ Blog

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Breastfeeding and the Vertical Transmission of HIV in Botswana

27 Sep

I originally wrote this blog for the International Women’s Initiative

HIV/AIDS is one of the most significant development challenges facing Botswana, a sparsely populated country in southern Africa. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Botswana is nearly 25% among adults, which puts Botswana as the second highest HIV/AIDS prevalent country in the world. The virus is spread mainly through heterosexual transmission among adolescents and adults and vertical transmission from mother-to-child.

The government of Botswana has put several measures in place to mitigate the spread of HIV. Particular focus has been put on reducing the new infections of infants through vertical transmission. Antiretrovirals (ARVs) are provided to women from when they are seven months pregnant, through childbirth and until they stop breastfeeding. However, there is still a lot of controversy surrounding HIV-positive mothers and breastfeeding, especially in Botswana.

Please go here to read the rest of this article.