Today I’m going to add to a previous post #8 about some superhuman Nepali women living in the foothills of the Himalayas who carry enormously heavy bundles of firewood during their pregnancies.(http://pregnancyandchildbirtharoundtheworld.blogspot.com/2011/11/8-no-such-thing-as-maternity-leave-in.html)
Equally impressive was the lengths the researcher (Catherine Panter-Brick) was prepared to go to, to see these women's breastfeeding habits were affected by their work and way of life. She spent a year in this village, keeping a minute by minute record of the activities of 58 village women, observing each of them for several days during 4 different seasons of the year. That’s dedication! (She is now Professor of Anthropology at Durham University, so I guess her dedication paid off).
I had naively thought that the difficulties of combining work and motherhood were new issues for women in the past 50 years. I somehow assumed that pre Women’s Lib, mothers stayed at home and looked after the children, and I probably thought that it was the same around the world. I hadn’t even really thought about the fact that women in other cultures have been ‘going back to work’ after having their babies for centuries (a necessity if their family are to have enough food to eat).
Next time you and your friends are discussing the difficulties of going back to work while breastfeeding, spare a thought for these Nepali women and feel reassured that your problem is as old as the hills.
So, among these Nepali women, how does a mother’s work affect her breastfeeding patterns?