Governments, health authorities, children’s charities, WHO, and international policymakers all extoll the benefits of breastfeeding. The science is clear, the public health benefits are clear, and the economic benefits are clear. So why is breastfeeding taboo? Why do we make it so hard for women to do it?
“That’s what the campaign is trying to address,” says Liz. “If we want more women to breastfeed, and the consensus is that we do, then it is a shared responsibility to make that happen.”
This year’s World Breastfeeding Week (waba.org.my/wbw), August 1 to 7, is themed ‘Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility,’ and Liz has taken the opportunity to reach further out into the community. More than 200 businesses and brands now back #Ittasteslikelove, empowering breastfeeding mothers by promising their place is a safe space to nurse.
Liz has garnered plenty of support on home turf from South Lantau concerns, such as Lantana, VIBE Book & Music Shop, The Village Bakery, Pause, Grill House by CAPO Group, Southside Lantau and Natural Plus. That is in addition to long-term DB supporters including Hemingway’s, Kapuhala Space and Treece Fitness, and Hong Kong-wide players like Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, Pizza Express, Pret A Manger, Maximal Concepts and Black Sheep Restaurants.
“As more and more places actively support nursing in public, people will think twice about voicing their disapproval, and after a while they may see there is no need to be disapproving at all,” Liz says. “Then the real changes can begin.”
SILENCING BREASTFEEDING CRITICS
Q: A lot of people have a hard time dealing with female breasts unless, of course, they’re being used to sell or seduce. Why do you think that is?
A: “People have grown unused to seeing breasts used for their primary purpose and are generally uncomfortable with abrupt social change. People still feel entitled to project their discomfort instead of learning to deal with it rationally.”
Q: According to UNICEF, some 40% of women who breastfeed in public in Hong Kong have had negative experiences. Do you find this statistic surprising?
A: “Wearily unsurprising. This happens more often than people realise – even in hospitals. When my eldest was born prematurely at Queen Mary Hospital, the nurses in the special care unit were more concerned about my modesty, in case “male doctors might mind,” than actually helping me breastfeed.”
Q: And how about the now infamous incident in DB…?
A: “I have breastfed all over the city, but outside of the public health system and overzealous security guards, Discovery Bay has been the place where I’ve had the most ‘issues’ for openly breastfeeding. “The most notable incident was when I was breastfeeding on a bus. About half way through the journey, the middle-aged woman next to me – who had been engrossed on her phone – noticed me and began shouting “cover yourself.” It was one of those rare moments in life when I actually thought of a snappy response at the time it was needed. It struck me that I was actually wearing more clothes than her, so I pointed that out. It did shut her up, but I doubt she understood the hypocrisy.”