10 facts you didn't know about breastfeeding around the world

How do you breastfeed in Tokyo or in Southern Africa? Which country is the world's champion of lactation? How do governments encourage breastfeeding among working mothers? A small tour of the world of surprising facts about breastfeeding.

Naturally, we say to ourselves that there is nothing easier than breastfeeding. A baby, a breast and that's it! And yet ... if nature has given all women in the world the power to breastfeed, the practice is far from universal.

It is estimated that only 40% of babies are breastfed worldwide. This is due to beliefs, traditions, activity or status of mothers that influence breastfeeding choices from one culture to another.

1. In Japan, breastfeeding is carried out in a safe place, in breastfeeding booths

Cover this breast that I cannot see! said Molière. Well, the mood remains the same 4 centuries later and almost 10,000 kilometers away.

It is true that the inventiveness of the country of the Rising Sun is no longer to be done: we knew the subway trains reserved for women and the bra that allows daddy to give suck. Now there are breastfeeding booths.

Even if modesty is a must in Japanese culture, breastfeeding is strongly encouraged. Moreover, even though the Japanese population has the lowest birth rate in the world (1.36 children per woman), breastfeeding mothers are not left out at all.

In the public space of some cities, there are " jyunyuu-shitsu "These are equipped breastfeeding areas that are strictly forbidden to men. These are equipped breastfeeding areas and strictly forbidden to men. They allow mothers to calm down their baby's cravings in complete peace of mind. And to top it all off, the most modest can even opt for an individual cabin.

2. In Mongolia, people consume breast milk... at any age

While in our country the concept may stir the hearts (sorry if you're passing on the table), there are places on earth where people have realized the potential of breast milk.

In Mongolia, milk is considered so healthy that even adults occasionally taste it. Mongolians love it; it almost reminds us of Obelix's love for the magic potion.

Mothers often reserve some of their milk for the rest of the family. It is also common to use this breast milk for therapeutic purposes, especially for the elderly. This is also the case in China, where convalescents consume it to recover.

Not surprisingly, sometimes practices go awry. And it didn't fail! The Japanese capital has recently seen the opening of the first breast milk bar in the world. Too cool we say ! You can drink milk by the glass or directly from the breast... WHAT ?! Unfortunately, its location in the heart of the Tokyo red light district and its exclusively male clientele leave no doubt about its erotic rather than therapeutic purpose.

3. In the Muslim culture, the Tahnîk is practiced

To whet your appetite, you should know that many Muslim families practice Tahnîk. This tradition is to apply the pulp of a date on the palate of a newborn with the finger before its first feeding.

If dates are not available, any sweet food will do. The goal is to prepare the child's stomach to receive breast milk.

Recently, the benefits of this practice have been proven by researchers from the University of Auckland in Australia, through their study The Sugar Babies Study. The experiment was carried out in a maternity hospital, with a sample of infants and using dextrose gel.

Their findings? The process would reduce hypoglycemia in babies. "Dextrose gel should become a leading treatment for managing hypoglycemia for late preterm and full-term babies within 48 hours of birth," the report states. A custom to copy without further delay!

4. In Indonesia, the working mums have their milk delivered by courier

In the era of Deliveroo and other Uber Eats, Indonesian babies also have their own food delivery service.

It is well known that the duration of breastfeeding is too often dependent on the duration of maternity leave. Babies are often taken away from their mother's breast after a few months, when mothers have to go back to work. However, theWorld Health Organization (WHO ) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months, then alternating with other foods until at least 2 years.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature has made it difficult, if not impossible, to get enough milk each morning to meet the daily needs of our offspring. So what to do?

The Indonesian company Arga Nirwana Express has found THE solution for working mums the delivery of breast milk. A real genius! Since 2005, the couriers go to the mothers' workplaces to collect the freshly pumped milk, and then deliver it to the nannies, keeping it fresh and cool. keeping it cool.

This initiative is possible because in Indonesia, companies are obliged to offer a lactation room. Women can thus, between two meetings, put their precious elixir in bottles. 

5. In India, babies are only breastfed after one month 

Colostrum is a yellowish liquid, like a kind of whey, that emanates from the nipples after childbirth. In several Asian countries, including India, it is customary to think that colostrum is impure, even toxic. This is a false belief that is deeply rooted in Indian culture. And it is a pity because colostrum is extremely nutritious for the infant since it is rich in proteins, vitamins, minerals and anti-infectious agents. In short, everything he needs.

But in the land of Hinduism, it is not given to babies. They are fed infant milk for the first few days of their life, waiting for the milk to come in so that they can finally be put to the breast.

This does not reflect a lack of interest in breastfeeding among Indian women. In fact, while it is estimated that only 35% of infants are breastfed at 48 hours in India, more than 94% of babies are breastfed at one month. Hats off to you! 

6. In the U.S., it's only been legal to breastfeed in public since 2018 

It looks like a joke of bad taste but it is not ... We had to wait until 2018 not to risk being arrested, toddler at the breast, in the public space of some American states. No Joke !

In July 2018, and after a long legal battle, Idaho and Utah finally passed a law making it legal to feed your baby in public. #Hallelujah These were the last 2 of 50 North American states to consider the practice illegal.

Related or not to this decision, the number of breastfed babies in the United States continues to grow. In 2018, 84% of them were breastfed - compared to 77% in Belgium or even 70% in France.

7. The Kung San of South Africa breastfeed up to 100 times a day

And here, admit that like us, you do your math: 100 times a day divided by 24H = ?

Cultural variations in breastfeeding practices also include the frequency of suckling. In southern Africa, the Kung San of the Kalahari Desert are an indigenous people who can be described as modern hunter-gatherers.

In this community, newborns and infants are breastfed (very) frequently and intensively. In fact, there is an average of one feeding every 15 minutes (or 4 times per hour if you have calculated correctly). And this at least until the child is 2 years old. To summarize, it's simple, moms spend all their time with their little ones who are perpetually perched in their arms or in those of another member of the community.

More surprisingly, children are never put on the floor because the Kungs believe that it is detrimental to their development.

African woman breastfeeding her child.

Your back and your Chest hurts Just reading this, keepin mind that the !Kung lifestyle is very different from our modern society. The mother receives a lot of help and is never alone. The African proverb: "It takes a whole village to educate a child" takes on its full meaning here.

8. Bangladesh supports breastfeeding in the workplace

The Mothers@Work program was launched in 2017 as an initiative of UNICEF and Better Work Bangladesh (BWB). It is a national initiative that aims to protect mothers and ensure their children receive the essential nutrients for their healthy development. 

This initiative has been deployed in 92 partner factories that have committed to providing mothers with an equipped breastfeeding room and a daycare center. Mothers also benefit from two additional 30-minute breaks per day to spend more time with their babies.

All this sounds like a dream already? Well, that's not all! A medical team is also available on site to advise mothers on maternal care and educate them on the advantages of breastfeeding.

Not surprisingly, Mothers@Work benefits working women, their babies and also employers, as a happy mother is a more productive employee.

So don't hesitate to forward this article to your bosses... #derien

9. The Philippines holds the world record for simultaneous breastfeeding

The Guinness Book of World Records says that in 2007, more than 15,200 women simultaneously breastfed their babies throughout the Philippines. This is a world record that, unless we are mistaken, has not yet been broken.

If the challenge makes you smile, the motivation is noble: the public authorities wish to promote breastfeeding at the expense of industrial milk.

Indeed, the Philippines is known for its unparalleled support for nursing mothers. Thanks to the Milk Codethe country has banned all marketing of infant milk (advertising, distribution of samples, discounts, etc.) for 25 years. Violators can even be imprisoned.

A model student, the country also strengthened its support for young mothers in 2009 with a law requiring public facilities to offer lactation stations that must be equipped with comfortable seats, sinks, electrical outlets for breast pumps and refrigerators. The minimum, we think! 

10. In Brazil, donations are made to the world's largest milk bank

End of the suspense! The world champions of breastfeeding are indeed the Brazilian women. It is estimated that 95% of babies are breastfed in Brazil.

However, 11% of births in the country are to premature babies. The favelaswhere the poorest social classes live, are the most affected by the phenomenon.

In the face of misery and emergency, thousands of mothers donate every year to the largest breast milk bank in the world: the Fernandes Figueira Institute. Although the Institute receives funds from the Ministry of Health, the bulk of its activity is based on the solidarity of mothers. Real heroines sometimes draw up to 2 liters of milk per week, in addition to the one intended for their children.

It is the firemen who take care of the transfer of the milk to the bank free of charge. As breast milk acts as a medicine on these newborns, these donations are considered to save 170,000 premature babies per year.

In conclusion, despite cultural differences, the world seems to be convinced that breastfeeding is healthy! We can see initiatives springing up on all continents, with the common goal of increasing the number of breastfed babies. This is encouraging because if the practice becomes widespread, it could save more than 800,000 newborns each year. 

Carole Bertrand, for Milk Away

#milkawayapparel #inmumwetrust #breasfeeding #breastfeedingmom #breastfeedingjourney 


photo credit: Unsplash - Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz