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Breasts!

sunny 27 °C
View Ethiopia on gunny64's travel map.

It has been a rather stressful 2 days. I awoke yesterday to find a message from my boy Alex telling me he was 'safe'! This obviously raised a few questions and concerns. After a quick Google search, I learnt about the terrorist attack in Nice and then slowly the story unfolded.......

Alex's waterpolo team were in Nice at the time. They were enjoying the evening in a cafe close to the main strip where the attack occurred. The boys were luckily not in the line of sight but could hear the shooting and then people starting running into their square. Alex and his mate, Jake, rushed to the cafe, collected the boys and took them safely back to their hotel. It was fortunate that Jake had been living in Nice this year and knew the area well. The boys were apparently 'shell-shocked' but OK and last night flew onto Budapest for the second last leg of their trip. Another terrible tragedy for the people of France but I am so thankful that Alex and his boys are safe.

Something like this reinforces my isolation. I have no access to normal media. There is no TV or radio that I can easily reach. The internet is 'patchy'! The one saving grace was that social media access had been mostly restored on Friday, making communication with Alex and home much easier. Also I now have some contacts here who could have helped me quickly arrange the 5 hour flight to France had it been necessary.

Now onto breasts.....I know my LC friends will have been waiting for this. Sorry no photos for this topic!

I have seen a lot of breasts in the last few weeks! On one of my first days, Marjolein mentioned that breasts here are not considered sexual - they are purely functional. This seems so true. Women are not embarrassed or sensitive when it comes to feeding. Their babies are carried on them everywhere and breastfed whenever, and wherever, they desire. I am yet to see a baby being fed with a bottle. Formula is expensive and inconvenient. I'm told that donor milk or 'wet nursing' is rare or unavailable due to the HIV risk.

As I've previously mentioned, the whole process of getting the baby out is pretty quick and mothers are back in their ward bed within 30 minutes of delivery. The baby is then immediately offered the breast and most just latch straight on. The baby co-sleeps and demand feeds. Discharge is usually 6 hours later and the midwives make sure the baby is sucking well before it is allowed to leave.

Like at home, doctors play little part in this process, but I've certainly made a few interesting observations. Firstly, there seems to always be an abundance of colostrum and the milk comes in very quickly. Secondly, most babies suck strongly immediately. It is so rare for women to stay or be readmitted with breastfeeding issues (apart from mastitis). There is a breast pump hidden away in the storeroom but I am yet to see it used. There are no lactation consultants, nipple shields, breast warmers or supply lines. Unlike at Murdoch, it doesn't seem necessary to add Motilium to the water supply! It all just seems to work!

Another fascinating use of the breast is during 2nd stage. As we know, contractions often diminish at this time. Here it is routine to perform nipple stimulation to 'hurry things along'. It is somewhat comical - one midwife (male or female) either side of the woman, nonchalantly tweaking her nipples while discussing their social life between contractions. It works! Not sure how it would go down at home though?!

Today I was really brave and tackled the main drag of Barhirdar. Being a Saturday morning, it was packed and chaotic - possibly not the best time to avoid being pickpocketed. However, it was lively and atmospheric, and worth the risk. There were many amazing photo opportunities but it somehow didn't feel right to snap away at these people going about their business. I did, however, ask permission of this gorgeous little chap herding his sheep through the streets. He was particularly proud of his little lamb.

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I accidently discovered a supermarket. It was not clearly marked (well not in English anyway) and I only went in because there was a picture of a chocolate bar. Inside was a haven of neatly packed shelves filled with (somewhat) western food. Chocolates! Biscuits (sadly not Oreos)! Fresh bread rolls! But no vegemite or butter :( Needless to say I left with a bag full of goodies! The chocolate bar didn't even make it home..........

Posted by gunny64 06:35 Archived in Ethiopia

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The breastfeeding is how I would have expected in a place where:
- the expectation is that it works
- there is co-sleeping
- the baby has unlimited acess to the breast and feed 12-14 times in 24hrs (therefore good supply)
- they do not expect babies to settle & sleep in cots regularly when the baby doesn't want to
- the baby's aren't half sedated from maternal pain relief.
I should have have been Ethiopian no BF or sleep issues for me. xx

by Sheila Irving

Enjoying your Blog Chris. Jenny gave me your link as Kerry told me you were doing the trip. What a privilege and experience. I take my hat off to you. Take care.

by Debbie Carrivick

How interesting your comment about breast feeding. I don't know now, as I have been out of Brazil, for long time (I'll find out though), but I remember women breast feeding babies everywhere and anytime, even at the beach, buses, trains, they never covered themselves or hide.

by Edyr

Great blog Chris. So interesting. Have a terrific rest of the trip.
Glyn & Mark xx

by Glyn & Mark

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